Saturday, August 30, 2014

Backpacking – 3 Generations and a Catahoula Leopard Dog

Highlights from Treasure Lakes, John Muir Wilderness, Inyo National Forest.


Papa! (and his fish)

Mud and frogs!

Sticks, water and the dog!

Swimming with the dog!

Mom and her fun ideas!

Just being there!

Day hikes above timberline!

Day hikes below timberline!


Napping (and snacking) on the dog!



Thanks Grammy and Papa!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Unleashing Readers – Review of Coyote Summer

Today I want to say a big THANK YOU to Unleashing Readers for a thoughtful review of Coyote Summer.  Here is a snippet:

"You have never heard of this book have you? That makes me so sad. How do such wonderful books fly under so many people’s radars? This is a special book that should be in the hands of middle schoolers everywhere! Heath is a character that so many kids will connect with, and his journey would definitely touch them like it did me."

Read the full review HERE.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Meditation

"I try to teach my students that losing is something you do, not something you are."
– Elizabeth Spiegel

Friday, August 22, 2014

Backpacking – 3 Generations and a Catahoula Leopard Dog

In previous posts I’ve mentioned how thankful I am that my parents shared wilderness with me when I was a child.  They started even before I could walk, carrying me into the Rocky Mountains on their backs.  As I grew older we ventured together onto mountain peaks and into old growth forests, and I’m so grateful for the things I found there—the smell of rain on unspoiled earth, the whispering of summer wind through aspen leaves, a sky so black and full of stars that it swallowed me—most importantly deep feelings of peace, connectivity, and meaning that will stay with me forever.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

This weekend things are coming full circle.  I’m heading to the Eastern Sierras with my parents, my wife, my two boys, and a loveable knucklehead of a Catahoula Leopard Dog—three generations and a mutt exploring John Muirs’ Range of Light.

I hope my kids continue finding the things I’ve found in the mountains over the past forty-odd years—the feeling of wind in their hair while standing above the world on some craggy granite peak, the joy of diving into a clear mountain lake, the perfection of a field of wildflowers… their souls.

I’ll post highlights and pictures when we get home.  Until then, happy trails!  Get mud on your feet!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Three Cheers for Summergrass!

My boys and I spent the past weekend at Summergrass, a fantastic bluegrass festival in Vista, California.  And the weekend got me thinking about the fact that there are a million different ways to help your kids get outside and get mud on their feet.  Right there on the festival grounds my boys sat in the shade of oak trees learning new songs, caught crawdads with newfound friends, and jammed beneath the stars with old-timers that took them under their wings.  They were outside the whole time, feeling free and getting dirty the way kids should!

I’ve attended several bluegrass festivals over the years, and I always come home feeling happy and thankful that these groups of people exist—people who camp together in large numbers and stay up until dawn picking banjos and singing in the moonlight.  It’s got to be good for the soul!  And of course we heard some great music!  There were too many great musicians to list them all here, but a couple highlights for me included the band Della Mae and the duo John Mailander and Molly Tuttle.  Check them out!

There are bluegrass festivals all over the place.  Search this Bluegrass Festival Guide to find one near you.  Take your kids.  Get mud on their feet!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Natural-terrain schoolyards reduce children’s stress

According to a new study from my old alma mater (the University of Colorado, Boulder… Go Buffs!) schoolyards that feature natural habitats and trees, not just asphalt and recreation equipment, reduce children’s stress and can help alleviate attention problems.  Playing in these more natural areas at recess, working on class assignments under the trees and helping in a school gardens have all been shown to provide stress-reducing benefits for kids.

Time and again, research has shown that spending time in nature enhances children’s wellbeing—from mental health to physical fitness.  Kids spend a large percentage of their waking hours at school, so schools are great places for communities to create pockets of nature for kids to experience.

The researchers in the University of Colorado study found that schoolyards with natural terrain—such as dirt, trees, native shrubs and water features—foster feelings of competence and supportive relationships between kids.

Perhaps there are sections of asphalt at your community school that could be converted to native trees or a school garden.  For more ideas, Check out the National Wildlife Federation’s Schoolyard Habitats Program.

Friday, August 8, 2014

More Doctors Order Kids to Get Outside

A growing number of pediatricians are giving children a new type of prescription—GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!

I have to admit that it makes me sad to be living in a time when doctors have to order kids to get outside and play.  But at least these doctors are taking action.  They see the problem, they understand it, and in some cases their prescriptions are having positive effects.

The Boston Globe highlighted the use of such prescriptions in one Massachusetts community.  “Many kids today don’t get outside enough, especially those without generous backyards or parents eager to lead them on nature walks.  So area pediatricians are increasingly writing prescriptions to encourage kids and teens to spend time outside, particularly during the summer months, when the weather is good and the lack of structured activity can lead to weight gain.”  Read the full article HERE.

Do what the doctor ordered.  Get outside.  Take your kids.  Get mud on your feet!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Let ’Em Eat Dirt

Here's another great article.  This one from the New York Times.

"Somehow, we’ve arrived at a moment when a kid playing by himself, Internet-free and helicopter-parentless, is a surprising thing. Huck Finn may be deep in the American DNA, but he’s disappeared from the summer landscape, replaced by the boy in the bubble. No dirt, no unplanned moments, and no time for discovery."  Read the full story by Timothy Egan HERE.

Let's bring Huck Finn back.  Now there's a kid who knew how to get mud on his feet!