My weekends were spent outdoors. My dad would load up a cooler with drinks and my mom would make sandwiches, packing up chips and cookies. We would load up in the car and drive to some wildlife refuge or riverbank or hiking trail. Or we would launch the boat and head to the nearest island, build a bonfire. We would explore the riverbank, climb the cliffs and see what we could see. We would find pottery and arrowheads - this was long before rules against such - and we would make paint out of mussel shells, marking our bodies with symbols and laughing. We would have lunch watching the barges go by, the silence only broken by their thrumming engines. I always looked forward to these outings with glee. Hot, cold, sunny or overcast - nothing dissuaded us. This passion for nature extended through my teenage years until college. Us kids became other-oriented, and the empty-nesters changed hobbies. Those days drew quietly to a close but they had changed me forever.
I had a great childhood. Not a "perfect" childhood, mind. My father taught me the love of exploring, that you're never really lost on country roads, that bobcats are cool, that trees make noise, that there's nothing anywhere as nice as the smell of woodsmoke from a campfire, how to make s'mores, that simple things are best. Take your kids out into the wilds and let them experience our natural world. It will stay with them forever, as it did me.