I was reminded this weekend of one of my earliest childhood memories about camping with my family, and it made me curious about how “normal” my experience was, so I’m hoping some of you will share your experiences, also.
Throughout the early and mid-1970’s, we lived in California which, despite the concrete jungles of the cities, offers some of the most interesting and varied landscapes to see in this country. From Death Valley in the southern part of the state, to the great redwood forests bordering Oregon in the North, one could spend a lifetime exploring California without running out of places to see.
I think I was 8 years old, when my parents bought a 1966 Dodge Van and we started exploring California in 1973. I can remember disappointment; hiking to the top of the volcano at Lassen National Park – which ended-up not looking anything like what I thought a volcano should look like, and the ancient bristlecone pines of the Inyo National Forest, which were just (to this child) a bunch of old, twisty trees.
I also remember the giant banana slugs in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, and the black bears in Yosemite National Park that could open the “bear proof” garbage cans, at will. On that same trip to Yosemite, I also vividly remember hang gliders going off El Capitan.
I see some of these same interests and disappointments in my children. While they might dismiss some great natural wonder as “ho-hum,” they will spend hours playing with salamanders in a mountain stream. It is important for us, as parents, to remember that our children’s interests are not always aligned with our own. If we are to promote and develop our children’s interest in nature, it’s important to let them explore nature on their terms – wherever that may lead