Today our monthly radio show will be doing a segment on kids in nature. I will be on with the new director of Irvine Nature Center, Brooks Paternotte, and author Sarah Olmsted, who recently wrote a book about turning your backyard into an outdoor playground. You can find her work here. And learn about Irvine and its programs here.
My own introduction to the outdoors came relatively late in life. I was not, you might say, to the outdoors born. My mother had four kids - three of us are just one year apart each. My dad worked a lot. Camping was not something I ever remember doing. We didn't sail. We didn't hike. My father recently confirmed the reason for this: He was a man who appreciated indoor plumbing.
I didn't exactly disagree. We lived in Montgomery County, Maryland, until I was 11, and then Pittsburgh, PA - a place so dirty at the time that one wouldn't think of canoeing or kayaking on one of its three rivers. For me, an enjoyable day was spent at the museum, or walking around a quaint shopping district. Vacation destinations, when I finally had the money to travel on my own, were more Madrid than Montana.
That began to change for two reasons. The first was my job. I began covering Anne Arundel County for The Sun in 2000, and moved to the Chesapeake Bay beat in 2004. Suddenly, I was outside more than in. My most expensive pair of pants came from the boating store (oh, expense account, how I miss you)! Among my adventures: swimming in the Susquehanna flats; sailing from Annapolis to St. Mary's, kayaking across the Tangier Sound, camping out on South Marsh Island - and that was just in the first year.
The second thing that changed: The birth of my first daughter. She was to the outdoors born. She loves all things nature. She can identify any kind of bug. She's seven, and she makes birdfeeders out of recycled milk crates for fun. She wants to camp and fish and play in the streams. Her birthday party this weekend has a bug theme. Her most fun moment all year was when she got to wrap a snake around her neck on a school field trip.
Between my job and my family, I'm outdoors a lot. I'd say those parts of my life were pushing me out the door, but I've come to appreciate all the things our beautiful region has to offer. I wish I knew how to do some things better - I have trouble assembling a tent, and I'm clumsy with a fishing rod. But I figure I'm still young and have a lifetime to learn more.
So, tune in to the show to hear some of my discoveries over the past decade, and call in to add your own. 410-662-8780 or email email@example.com.