Basecamp: Wednesday Night Adventure Club | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Basecamp: Wednesday Night Adventure Club Photo: Scott MacGregor

Making time for outdoor adventure

Children today have more structured time than any generation before them. This spring at my house, for example, Monday was baseball practice, Tuesday and Wednesday were afterschool academic booster programs for standardized testing (don’t get me started), and Thursday was dance class and a baseball game. On Fridays everybody was too tired to do much of anything.

For weeks after the snow melted and the ice went out I’d ask the kids if they wanted to go paddling or biking after school or after dinner.

“Sure Dad, but when?” they’d reply.

Another weekend would come and go and we’d make loose plans to go the next week, if we could find the time.

Our lives are run by an oversized calendar stuck to the refrigerator door. It’s probably the same at your house. Everything important gets neatly printed in pencil inside 31 little squares and reviewed every morning at breakfast. Important events get stickers. My son strokes out the days counting down to really big occasions like summer vacation and Christmas.

Life coaches suggest that time management is an important skill to teach young children. Our elementary school issues every child an agenda on the first day of class. Teachers are instructing children how to write every due date and appointment in the book. What they are not teaching is how to choose what goes on the list and what doesn’t, or how to prioritize the truly important things in life.

We always make our scheduled appointments. If it is written on the calendar we never miss. It’s important to commit to things and not let your team down, or leave your dance instructor waiting in an empty studio. It’s also important to schedule family time. Why? Because, if it’s not on the list it gets pushed to next week.

When the kids were smaller, before team sports and sleepover birthday parties, life was simpler. We had more free time together and that meant more time outside. Lately, we’ve found that real life is running our lives. We’ve been putting off the things we value the most and we’ve been too busy driving to the next agenda item to notice.

It was my daughter, Kate, who came up with the idea. “Why don’t we make Wednesday night, Do Something Adventurous Night?” she asked. “I’ll make stickers. We’ll put them on the calendar.”

In took us a few weeks before we fell into the routine.

Wednesday mornings we make lists of gear we need to have packed and ready at the back door. We stick the lists to the fridge and refine and reuse them every week. We’ve gotten smarter about being organized with bins and bags consolidating and keeping everything for a given activity all in one place.

On Wednesdays I work a little faster and get home a little earlier. Dinner is reheated leftovers or a quick omelet so we can get out the door more quickly. We made going for a paddle as easy and as routine as heading to the ball diamond. We found bike trails closer to home. We learned which fishing lures to bring and what tackle we could leave behind. Most importantly we made playing outside as important and as routine as anything else in our busy lives.

Scott MacGregor is the founder and publisher of Canoeroots. 

Screen_Shot_2015-07-07_at_2.59.13_PM.pngThis article first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Canoeroots Magazine. For more great content, click here and subscribe to Canoeroot’s print and digital editions, or click here to read the current issue.

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