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Get Out There!

July 31, 2011 –

I had originally intended to write this blog a few days ago, but I am glad I held off as I just had a great experience this weekend that ties nicely into this topic. I have thought about this topic numerous times while I have been doing my outdoor triathalon training. For the first 8 months I did Beachbody programs (P90X, P90X Plus, and Insanity), I trained exclusively inside. Now I started P90x in December 2009, so it is not as bad as it sounds. However, one thing I have really enjoyed in my triathalon training is getting outside. Whether it has been running, biking, or swimming (our park district pool is outside), I have loved being outside. There is something about being in the fresh air. It rejuvenates me and helps me recenter and focus. Which brings me to my next point.

As a kid, I went camping alot. Being the youngest, my parents started dragging me along when I was 2 years old. As we got older, my parent bought a pop-up camper. We would go up to Wisconsin and other campsites in Illinois. We had a 1976 Bicentential Sunfish Sailboat my Dad bought for $700 and a row boat. We sure looked like the Griswolds sometimes in our family station wagon, but we didn’t care. I had such great memories of camping; from fishing to digging huge holes in the ground for no reason to telling ghost stories at the campfire. As we got older we moved away from “car camping” and my Dad really got into backpacking. I would go with him on his backpacking adventures up to Kettle Moraine State Park in Wisconsin. I still have my red backpack I wore when I was a pre-teen. I was never a boy scout, but my Dad was an eagle scout and taught me everything he knew. I remember sweating like crazy in the summer or having to wear mosquito nets through some of the denser forests. But most of all what I remember is spending time with my Dad and to me, that was priceless.

This weekend we took our first family camping trip. I have gone camping with my sons for Cub Scouts, but we have never gone with all 5 of us. We went to a local campground to test the waters as a first outing. It was quite nostalgic as we went to Chain O’ Lakes State Park where my family used to go. I haven’t been there in over 20 years, but I surprisingly remembered quite a bit of it. I remember catching my first big fish there: a dog fish! I wanted to cook it, but my dad told me that the best way to cook that fish was to fry it in a pan with some wine, throw out the fish and drink the wine. LOL.

So as I walked along the hiking paths with the family, stood on the fishing piers, and grabbed small moments to show them something in nature, I felt so blessed. My wife and I were paying it forward to our kids. She won the silver award in Girl Scouts so she knows more than me about the outdoors. I could tel our enthusiasm and excitement was rubbing off on our kids. My middle son John says to me yesterday, “Dad, this is the best time ever!”

Now I realize not everyone is an “outdoor family”, but I really think it is one of the best ways to bond. Why?

1) It gets everyone out there! Get out of the house, breath in the fresh air!

2) It gets everyone away from the TV, video games, computers, and everything else in the house. Unplug!

3) It teaches kids to appreciate the things we have like running water, running toilets, dishwashers, air conditioning, etc.

4) It gives everyone a chance to appreciate the great outdoors. And guess what? Everything isn’t perfect. You get bug bites, you sweat in the summer, and you need to carry your water. But you also get to run around, play fun games all day long, and get as dirty as you want! Its a place where kids can be kids.

5) It is a wonderful place to teach your kids to respect nature. Walk softly, appreciate the wonders God has created for us, and¬† leave the place better than how you found it. My daughter and I were walking back from the bathroom (well, pit toilets) and walked down the pier and appreciated the sunset. “It’s so pretty,” she said. And you know what? She may just remember that moment for the rest of her life just as I remembered so many picturesque moments. To the right is a picture I snapped of her.

6) Learning how to rough it. As I gradually roughed it more and more as I grew up, it toughened me up. I believe it teaches kids an invaluable lesson and allows them to be more confident in their independence. When I was 13, my Dad first brought me up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in Minnesota. We went about 8 or 9 times through my teenage years and beyond. I had a great sense of accomplishment and pride after finishing those trips. Through rain, heat, and some pretty tough terrain, we made it through. There are simply¬† things that are taught in nature that just can’t be taught anywhere else.

So as I finish this blog, you may be thinking, “Hey Coach, nice stories, but what does this have to do with health and fitness?” For me the outdoors is a true sanctuary. It gives me peace, calm, and solace with God. It not only gets us out and moving around physically, but is almost as if I go through a deep spiritual and emotional cleansing as well. I feel refreshed and life seems clearer. Lastly, the outdoors was something I was brought up with. So as we talk in this team about paying it forward, it important to think about the positive life events that shaped you and pass those on to your kids, nephews, nieces, or whatever young people are around you!

One Response to “Get Out There!”

  1. […] at the sun, put my hands down by my side, close my eyes and just take Him in. Similar to nature, being outside and exercising helps me be closer to God. As I have said before, I am a big visual person. Whether […]

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