Within the last year Damien and I decided, Damien predominately leading and me (mostly) enthusiastically going along, that outdoor adventure would be a large part of our family identity.
One huge part of this decision was the education it provides for our children. Our family is on a journey to explore the "great outdoors". This life trek knows no artificial subject or age graded boundaries, we are all learning together and that's part of the joy. Yesterday we hiked Mount Will in Bethel, Maine. The woods are on the cusp of spring growth and our hike observations were mostly identifying the growth around us.
The first part of the 3 1/4 mi. loop is a nature trail with descriptive signs explaining the natural history of the area and identifying different tree species. Celine and I can now easily distinguish paper birch, yellow birch (we've renamed it golden birch and it's gorgeous), beech, hemlock, balsam fir, red maple and maybe white pine and spruce. The kids also found several beautiful teeny blooming wildflowers and stopped to ooh and ahh at each little tree bud opening its nascent fuzzy green leaves.
The kids can also tell you where rivers start and where they end and have seen both. And more specifically where the Androscoggin, the river that runs through our city, starts and what it looks like from 1,700 feet elevation. Not to mention all the near microscopic bugs that Laurent can spot in a speck of dirt. Botany, geography and zoology are only part of it. The kids are also learning perseverance, patience, leading, following, contentment, nature appreciation and how to leave the woods and the world as you found it. Sounds like a good education to me.