My husband’s grandmother’s isms: “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die.”
His mom’s isms: “Never pass on an opportunity to use the restroom.”
My mom’s isms: “It’s not cancer.”
My isms: “Oh well.”
The mothers before us know a lot, but few know more than Mother Nature.
Time outdoors is good for us and our kids. We all know that. But do we realize how good? Or how to make it a family activity?
This Harvard Medical School article points out just some of the reasons to be in nature often, including fascinating ones around ADHD. Last spring, I became intrigued by the idea that some pediatricians are even doling out nature as remedy. I was flipping through Our State magazine and read about a program called Kids in Parks TRACK Trails Rx that NC doctors are using to prescribe outside time. Yep, take a hike, and call me in the morning. This fascinated me to learn more. Now, our family uses the site ourselves. I hope you’ll try it and help me spread the word too.
This trend toward nature as medicine is nothing new. It’s been widely accepted in the medical community for decades. Only recently though (2013) did the Golden Gate and the National Recreation and Parks Association, with support from the National Park Service, formalize the concept into the National ParkRx Initiative. Fortunately, NC participates.
In NC, the Kids in Parks website exists to guide and motivate patients. Even better? Any parent can serve up this Rx too, no white coat needed. All children are welcome to use the site. Parents help set up their profiles and select adventures to try with a user-friendly search tool.
The program describes itself as, “an expanding network of family-friendly outdoor adventures called TRACK Trails. Each TRACK Trail features self-guided brochures and signs that turn your visit into a fun and exciting outdoors experience. Best of all, you can earn PRIZES for tracking your adventures!” We now know enough about fungus and lichen to be dangerous. Watch out.
My kids were pretty pumped the weekend they learned they could
A) Have extra screen time to sign up and search
B) choose an animal profile pic that best represented them and
C) win cool swag just by exploring outside.
(While hiking Crowders’ Backside Trail, try to guess the right number of stairs!)
We have now logged tracks at Crowders Mountain and Latta Plantation (Tip: Print the adventure brochures before you go as the holders are sometimes not yet replenished.). We have started to look forward to planning these mini adventures that are only about 25-45 minutes away from CLT.
Hiking and tromping around like this is quickly becoming our family’s “thing”. And I treasure these little outings with them because we get to talk while we walk and get to know each other in different ways. For instance, our eleven-year-old likes to lead. My eight-year-old is pretty darn funny. Sam and I still like to hold hands. That kind of stuff.
Another tip? Have a big brunch to ward off hunger, and pack some DIY trail mix of sweet and salty combos for an on-the-go lunch.
Consider packing a sweet treat for when you reach the top of a particularly rigorous trail–or stopping for ice cream afterward (Tip #3: A must try is Tony’s near Crowders.) as we apparently like to do. It’s for the kids, c’mon. A serious tip is to discuss safety too before hitting the trails.
And if the last thing you want to do is hop online to hop outside, consider the Whitewater Center. Their lights display is pretty incredible and a very easy trail for even baby backpackers. Treat your family and yourself to this art-in-nature experience running through February 16th (6-10 pm, with only a $6 expense for parking).
Happy trails wherever yours may lead…