I have three active kids, and they all are involved in sports and can find stuff to do on their own outside using their imagination. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in video games or sitting in front of the television for what I consider too much time.
We all know it’s not like the old days, when we would finish our homework (possibly) and run out the door to meet up with our friends and see what game we could invent to run around the neighborhood. Or, maybe it was just playing a pickup game of basketball at the neighbor’s house or even the park. The bottom line was, we hated being inside.
Even when the weather got cold, as it does here in the Midwest, things didn’t change. We would put on whatever we needed to and go play in the snow, make forts, snowmen, anything we could do to be outside, until we were told we needed to come in and get warm.
Now, we know that times are different. There are so many inside distractions that can make it difficult to want to go outside in any weather. Between television, including Netflix, computers and video games, there are so many things to do without stepping foot outside the house. My neighbor and I often joke around this time of year that we will see each other in the spring. That never really happens as our kids seem to find each other outside quite a bit during the colder months.
The good thing is, in addition to being involved in organized sports, my kids aren’t afraid to go outside when it’s a little cold and play street hockey or even have a snowball fight if they can drum up enough kids. When we had our first snowfall a while ago, I was ecstatic to see they had gone outside and made a small snowman on our back deck. My 16-year-old is also perfectly content to take his friends and just go sledding on the nearest snow-covered hill.
One of NRPA’s Strategic Plan goals is to give 1 million people a greater connection to nature and the outdoors. As park professionals and advocates, we play a huge role through our programs, activities and even the open spaces we offer to our communities.
Although the days are shorter and the air may be colder, encourage others to explore the outdoors. No matter where you are in the country, make sure you don’t stay inside all winter. Get yourself outside!
Stephen Eckelberry is NRPA's Chair of the Board of Directors