The WildeBeat

The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.


The WildeBeat edition 47: Kid's Nature, part 2

This is a supplementary transcript of our audio program. CLICK HERE to listen to the original program, and see the associated show notes.

Getting kids into the wilderness could be the best thing you could do, not only for them, but for the wilderness as well. This week on The WildeBeat; Kid's Nature, part two.

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News from the WildeBeat, the audio journal about getting into the wilderness.

This is program number forty seven.

I'm Steve Sergeant.

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STEVE: I'm continuing my conversation with Scott Graham, the author of the Wilderness Press book, Extreme Kids.

STEVE: You undoubtedly use your children as examples throughout this book, but let's take another family who, perhaps their children are already in late in their pre-teens or in their early teens, and they'd always thought that they couldn't do this kind of stuff anymore, for whatever reason. How do they get back into it?

SCOTT GRAHAM: Well I've got two chapters in the book that talk about getting into this outdoor sports pursuit thing as a family. And you're right, the one is aimed at, I think the title of the chapter is, "Getting started when they're teeny, tiny, tots." And the other title is, getting started when they're older. And, you know, older kids are obviously a different breed than younger kids for -- those of us who are parents know the younger kids are much more malleable. We can convince them a little more easily with a little bribery in the way of ice cream cones and stuff to get them involved in what i is we want to get them involved in. The older kids, often, have started to get minds of their own. And that's what's actually great about extreme sports, is that it's pretty easy to sell older kids on the idea of going out and doing extreme sports. For one reason, that's what you see on all these publications. And so the reality is that when your kids are older it's really easier, in many ways, to get them excited about some of this stuff. The how-to part of it is also great. The older kids get, the more programs there are out there to explore these sports as newbies with your kids. There are family-oriented how-to courses for pretty much all the sports that I cover in this book. And it's also quite easy to explore them simply on your own as a family, even with older kids.

STEVE: What are some of the difficulties parents face when trying to get their children interested in these activities?

SCOTT GRAHAM: Just the vagaries that outdoor pursuits present in terms of the weather, you know, biting bugs and rain and hail and all the things that come with doing things in the outdoors. And that's something that for parents who have not spent a lot of time doing outdoor sports before, that's going to be kind of an added difficulty. Getting used to that whole concept of dealing with the outdoors along with trying out some of these new sports with their kids that maybe daunting in and of themselves. I've just tried to offer up as much advice as I can in this book, and to do so by telling as many stories as I can, of as many families as I have met up with and have been able to contact about what they're doing and how they're doing it.

STEVE: I'd like to get to a couple of those stories, but what I'd like to do first is: What are some of the most common roadblocks?

SCOTT GRAHAM: I think maybe the biggest roadblock that, and it can often be as much mental as real, is that of the financial concern. Outdoor sports by their very nature are gear intensive. And many of the sports that I talk about in this book require various amounts of gear. And parents, especially those who haven't participated in different sports before and are looking at, number one, trying out a new sport, and number two, trying it out with their kids. Then, you know, you're looking at the potential for some significant money outlay. And so I spent a whole chapter talking about gear, gear requirements in general, and then talking about ways to deal with the gear issues in a financially acceptable way. And so, what I suggest in the book and what other families have done is you go rent first. And you go try out a sport by renting for a day or two or three or whatever, and see if it's something you really like. Because if it's not something that you're going to enjoy, then no need to sink all that money into it. And then when you do end up sinking money into the gear, I talk about ways to used gear, talk about way to -- used gear that's in good condition, 'cause there are places you can look for it and find stuff that's worthwhile by picking the right places to look. At the same time I talk a great deal about the fact that it's worth gearing up correctly for these sports, because one way to not have a whole bunch of fun with your kids in the outdoors is to not gear up adequately and end up miserable as a result.

STEVE: So that's number one. Are there any other significant obstacles, something that's more interpersonal or psychological?

SCOTT GRAHAM: Well, sure. I mean, one of the [laughs]. Interpersonal, psychological, there are all those issues with something like a family pursuing outdoor sports together. Because what you've got are, by definition, members of the family or are at various, different ability levels, and different likes and dislikes with regard to the different sports.

STEVE: You had some stories from people that you interviewed for your book.

SCOTT GRAHAM: One of those stories that comes to mind involves a guy by the name of Leo Lloyd, who is one of the top rigging for rescue rope instructors in the country. And this guy just knows ropesmanship, he's an amazing climber. And so of course, in his case, since his kids got old enough he started them doing rock climbing and ropes types of things, and one of the things that Leo enjoys doing is canyoneering. And so when his oldest son hit the age of ten, they did what is by any measure an extreme canyoneering adventure. They went down what's known as Mystery Canyon in Zion National Park. It involved ten or eleven rappels, the longest being a hundred foot free rappel, meaning that you're not even, your feet aren't even against the wall. It's an overhanging rappel. You're just out in space, dropping a hundred feet. So then I interviewed Leo and talked to him about why he's out there trying to do these extreme things like that with his kids. He said, you know, "I just want to create great memories for them."

STEVE: It seems in this book like you're advocating that people do some pretty risky things with their kids. What makes it worth it?

SCOTT GRAHAM: I interviewed a guy named Jack Turner. Jack Turner is the producer of "The Next Kid's Snow Search," I think is the name of the television show he produces each year for ABC sports. And Jack's got a couple of kids and he's done all sorts of things that, by normal standards would be considered risky, and I think Jack has the best answer for it. He said, "You know, I could let my kids kind of sit around and watch TV and eat Lay's potato chips all their youth, because it is true that if you go out in the outdoors with your kids, there is rick involved. It's going to be far riskier for me to let my kids turn into tubs of lard, sitting in front of the television, because that's pretty much a guaranteed fact, that they're going to die young of bad health if I let 'em do that. That's pretty much guaranteed. Whereas, if I've got them out, being active, doing things out in live becoming capable people, capable adults, then they're really living."

STEVE: You've talked a lot about sports. You've talked a lot about gaining confidence and overcoming difficulties, and what I've heard so far absent from everything you've said, is anything about the wonder of the natural world, anything about marveling in the beauty of that. Do you touch on that at all?

SCOTT GRAHAM: I touch on it a great deal. I think it's just been the direction that our conversation has gone so far. To me that's the first and foremost reason for getting outdoors with your kids, and that I think is true of pretty much all parents. The truth is the outdoors are just a wonderful place. And then the question is, how do you get your kids to really appreciate it? Well, you get'em out there in it. How do you get'em out there in it? Well, you find ways that they're really going to have fun in the outdoors, and then all those great things come from that.

STEVE: Scott Graham, thank you for appearing on The WildeBeat.

SCOTT GRAHAM: Thank you for having me.

STEVE: A widely quoted Lakota Sioux proverb says, "We do not inherit the world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." Perhaps we can start paying back that loan early, by getting our children out into the natural world soon and often. Richard Louv observes:

RICHARD LOUV: When you look at the studies of where environmentalists and conservationists come from, almost to a person, they had some kind of transcendant experience with some nature when they were kids. What happens if we take that window of wonder away from a large part of this generation, and the next, and even more of the next, where will the future stewards of the Earth come from?

STEVE: You can find out more about the books by Scott Graham and Richard Louv, by following the links on our web site.

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Next time -- Keeping Bears Hungry.

The Wildebeat is produced by Steve Sergeant for Effable Communications. Our official website is WWW dot WILDEBEAT (that's W-I-L-D-E-B-E-A-T) dot NET. Please see our website for ways to support future editions of The WildeBeat. Contribute your comments to webmaster at wildebeat dot net, or call our comment line at 866-590-7373.

This has been The WildeBeat, program number forty seven. Thank you for listening.

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