How do you get kids to have fun going outside in a downpour?
Often times, kids aren't the ones you need to worry about. They have this innate ability to not be bothered with cold weather, biting winds, or heavy rains. I find that I am the first to jump up and down, trying my hardest to act like I'm not thinking about curling up next to a fire with a hot cup of tea.
This was most evident when I went on a birding trip with a group of eighth grade girls. Our goal was to introduce the concept and practice behind birding while learning some very basics on identifying birds. We visited the Skagit Valley's West 90 (popular birding spot in Northern Washington) and a public beach on Samish Island. Like any normal Pacific Northwest day in the winter, the rain was consistent. It had persisted for a few days and had created large puddles in which the group decided would be extremely fun to jump in. Since they were all wearing rain boots and full rain gear, it wasn't much of an issue.
Next we went to Samish Island and walked down the beach observing the few shorebirds found just outside of the break. Having identified two different birds, the group was ready to do some free exploration. On their own initiative and without a second thought, three girls decided to wade up to their mid thigh (at points even higher with the waves crashing) to reach a rock a few yards from the shoreline so they could sit on it for a brief moment before wading back.
They were completely indifferent to my astonished response. A little cold and very wet, we all went back to the bus and drove to Larrabee State Park for a fire before heading home. I did not hear a single word of complaint from any of them even as they were dumping cups of water out of their boots. That day, they went home with huge smiles on their faces and not a trace of regret.
I don't often wish I could be a child again, but this is one of those moments where I am envious of their adventurous and brazen spirit.
Hannah Newell is a recent resident to Bellingham, WA, where she plays and explores the great outdoors for her job as an environmental educator. She believes education is the heart of change and has dedicated herself to showing our youth the importance of living a thoughtful life, taking human and non-human life into consideration.
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