Life is Better Outdoors

So we spent this weekend camping at Garner State Park out near Leakey, TX. It was a bit chilly at nite (OK, alot chilly - at least by Texas standards, and because I'm a big ol weenie) but we survived and have lots of memories to show for it. A couple of things that struck me while we were there was how many others were camping the week of Thanksgiving (and appeared to be staying thru Thanksgiving), how beautiful the park is off-season, especially in the Fall, and how much the kids enjoyed exploring outside (despite the elements and a serious lack of sleep) for a few days.

Life is so different around a campsite, compared to life at home. You hear noises you don't normally hear. You have to do more than just walk inside when it starts raining or gets cold. You don't worry about getting the floor dirty. You make fires in order to eat. You walk across the street to the bathroom (for those of us who camp the old fashioned way). You are continuously in nature. And you are continuously in public. You can hear your neighbors talking and whispering, their fire crackling, their tent windows being zipped up or down, their shelter or RV doors slamming, you get to watch families play games around the picnic can even watch them brush their teeth (and vice versa) in the morning, every little noise is exaggerated in the woods...especially those crying babies! Sweet nibblets. Who is bringing infants camping in the winter? Seriously, people. Now, the guitar player who moved in after the screaming baby left, who lulled us to sleep with his singing and guitar pickin'...that I can handle!

It's an interesting mix of people who camp off-season. Except for the occasional screaming baby, it's more quiet and calm. Peaceful. You're there to fish or hike or canoe, instead of swim. The river almost seems to be resting (well, until our pup fell in). I did miss the music coming form the jutebox, and the silliness and laughter that comes from the nightly dances (a beloved Garner summertime activity), but you could still play your own songs and have your own private dance if you wanted to. And the TShirts at the camp store are all on sale for $5. I mean c'mon!

And you can't beat the drive from Leakey to Medina. Seriously. Google scenic drives in Texas. That drive is the #1 most scenic drive in the state. And most especially in the Fall. It's just stunning. It will make you a little queasy with all the turns and dips and hills and hillside cliffs, but it will take your breath away how beautiful this part of Texas can be. There just isn't a more peaceful way to spend a lazy weekend in the Hill Country. (Just look how happy Hula Dude is).

While we were waiting in line to get our campsite (yes, there was a line to get in, there was also a line at Lost Maples the next day for hiking - these are popular destinations in the Fall so if you plan to go, book in advance), I noticed a sign on the wall that echoes a bumper sticker I have on the back of our Patridge Family van (AKA Scooby van, Hippie van, Yellow Bus, etc). I picked up this bumper sticker at the state park on Mustang Island, in Port Aransas. It says, "Life's better outside." This is apparently the motto of the Texas Parks & Wildlife organization. The poster hanging in the waiting room at Garner state park has this to say about life outside:

The Top 10 Reasons Why Life is Better Outside for Children
Children who spend time in nature:
1. Are healthier physically and mentally
2. Do better in school
3. Have higher self-esteem
4. Have good discipline
5. Feel more capable and confident
6. Are good problem solvers
7. Are more cooperative with other children
8. Are more creative
9. Feel more connected to nature
10. Will be tomorrow's conservation leaders

I couldn't agree more. I highly value the outdoor education I received as a child, and am so thankful to have the opportunity to share the great outdoors with my own critters. It's sad to me that experts say kids today suffer from "nature deficit disorder" when that seems like the easiest and cheapest thing we can offer to our kids. Take them outside. Let them explore. So much can be learned by navigating over rockbeds or learning to map your way thru a woodsy trail - or sleeping outdoors on a cool Fall evening. I'll take that over watching TV anytime.

*If you need some tips on how to get the kids outside more, here's a list of 50 from the Texas Parks & Wildlife

*and here's a list of 10 more from the "Life is Better Outside" website

*and if you're ever in Leakey, TX be sure and grab some grub at the Leakey Feed Lot...they're family friendly, pup-friendly, the place is funky and charming and the food exactly what you need after a nite of freezing your tatas off or hiking all day at Lost Maples - it doesn't get more small town Texas than the Feed Lot. Texas Monthly calls it one of the 40 best small town cafes in Texas. And yes, you get to sit outside!


1 comment:

  1. Nice...looks like your home-schooling is starting off with a bang!! Way to go!