I take my kids outdoors because that is where I find inspiration and my soul finds peace.

My parents did the same, driving us nine hours north of our home to a cabin on Deere Lake, Minnesota where we fished and swam and played and lived outdoors. When we came home, the outdoor living continued with grilling and playing and swimming at the neighborhood pool. We were not a family to sit and watch television all day. If it was even remotely nice, out we went.

We explored the West over two summers – Mount Rushmore, the Tetons, Yellowstone, the Badlands, Devils Tower, and such – camping in our van every other night, eating fresh trout from the river beside the mountain road, watching geysers explode beside us on foot paths, and finding ourselves in awe of the craftsmanship of both man and nature.

I take my kids outdoors because I want them to feel the same peace, I want them to know it is a place of joy and wonder, and I want them to see firsthand, this beautiful world they inhabit.

Last weekend we hiked a trail which had us criss-crossing a river of ferns.

See the lush green, feathery leaves flowing downhill beyond sweet pea on the trail? That is all ferns.

A river of ferns, flowing towards us, washing past us and moving on.

At one point the trail shrunk, leaving us just enough room to pass through them.

They were almost as tall as sweet pea.

As we hiked, questions filled my head.
Where did these ferns come from?
Who planted them here? Or if not someone or something, when did the wind carry their spores and drop them, like snowflakes, to land here?
And what creatures lay their heads under these fronds’ shadows for an afternoon nap?
I certainly could.

The trail then wound through a more dense forest of flowering shrubs.

And past two beautiful overlooks.

And then opened into a taller canopy, making us feel like so small, like little gnomes.

I don’t expect my kids to remember every hike but I hope they walk away with memories of exploring and adventure and fun times spent with family and I hope those fuel part of their lives as they grow, whether their passion or hobby, so that the outdoors becomes a second home for them as it has for me.