Filling the Outdoor Adventure Gap

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We all view adventure differently.  For some, the adrenaline-rush of a perilous sport is desirable; for others, substituting fries for chips is a bold move.  Some level of adventure is important in life; otherwise, things become dull and predictable. Granted, adventure is not required (or advised) in every aspect of life.  For many years U-Haul advertised “Adventure in Moving” on its trucks and trailers until someone realized that folks didn’t necessarily want more “adventure” added to an already challenging experience. 

Adventure is to life what seasoning is to food: too much can be unsavory or unhealthy, but not enough will be bland and unappealing.  Balance is key in determining the right amount of this vital yet often neglected ingredient. Unfortunately, our adventure is often relegated to “action” or “reality” TV shows and video games, and we have been slowly seduced into passively observing rather than actively experiencing.  As a recovering TV-addict, I know that couch potatoes aren’t born, they’re cultivated. 

One obstacle to adventure is that it can initially seem scary or unsafe.  Winnie the Pooh, with his trademark trepidation, was hesitant to step toward adventure. In “Adventure is a Wonderful Thing,” Pooh sings this stanza:

That’s the beauty of adventurepooh
It’s strictly sink or float
It runs you ’til you’re ragged
Then it grabs you by the throat
You struggle to survive it
Though the chances are remote
Hoo, hoo, lucky you
Wish I was coming too
Adventure is a wonderful thing


Safe to say that Pooh’s relationship with adventure was tentative at best, and it didn’t involve a Go Pro or snowboarding down an avalanche-prone mountain or kayaking over hundred foot waterfalls.  Nevertheless, he understood adventure’s visceral appeal and that it happened best outside.  Pooh’s recipe for adventure usually included a combination of woods, a pinch of limited (though seemingly real) risk and a dash of imagination shared with an assortment of friends.  For Pooh, when self-fabricated fears were put to rest, memorable adventures followed.

Adventure is best introduced early in childhood and then allowed to evolve naturally according to interest and enthusiasm.  And exposure is more important than degree.  Simple hiking, camping, star gazing (meteor showers are best!), wild berry picking, identifying basic plants and animal tracks all provide loads of opportunities to explore and learn.  Kids simply need to put down their mind-numbing electronic games, give their thumbs a rest and experience something bigger and more awe-inspiring than their cul-de-sac.

More than ever, kids need streams to wade, trees to climb, woods to explore and meadows to run, because adventure is the stuff that kids thrive on, and, the truth is, we’re all still kids.