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Five Words Kids Can Take Outdoors.

Words count. That's not just some new-age thing. Words matter. Some of the biggest mistakes I've made in life have included words, and luckily, words were there to help me make amends. Words surround us with energy. And words set the tone for our moments, days, and years.

Five words come to mind when encouraging kids to get outdoors. Love. Trust. Go. Experience, and Dream.

Kids need to learn to love themselves. I don't mean to adore themselves but to love themselves. To love themselves for exactly who they are, that day, that moment. Kids' physical, mental, and emotional status change so rapidly and often that loving themselves needs to be a practiced and repeated choice. To love themselves, kids practice using words of encouragement, truth, and honesty about themselves. They put themselves first, setting healthy boundaries and using their voice to express their thoughts and feelings. They love themselves by being loyal to themselves and caring for their body, thoughts, and spirit. Kids find love for themselves by not comparing themselves to others for vanity or status. Self-love will last a lifetime when nurtured.

You may be asking yourself, what's to trust about going outdoors? Everything. Many kids have to get past their fear and learn to trust the outdoors for the amazing, empowering, supernatural space it is. And once a kid is outdoors, they will soon discover a new level of trust in themselves.

For years I've watched kids arrive for their first time at the Donderdag! Clinics, only to sit in the car and watch out the window. The place is new, and they aren't sure what or who to trust. But given time, they climb out, silently don their gear, and ride toward the sign-in table. Kids build trust within two or three clinics, one layer at a time. The first time they pedaled into rough grass, rode down a slope that threatened to toss them clear off the bike, and more. Learning to trust repeatedly builds confidence, courage, and self-love.

Humans spend vast amounts of time indoors, causing tension and stress. Almost all animals are stressed when confined. What's the remedy? Get your kids outdoors. Bring the pets, wagon, or mobility chair, and get out there. The outdoors is open to every human. The laws of nature remind us were are born outdoors before anything else. Get out there. Once kids and many adults get outdoors, they want to go further. Go. It's a natural feeling, and because the outdoors doesn't judge, the outdoors doesn't care if you go from your house door to Mount Everest or a patio garden. The universe is just glad to have you outdoors. Go there, any distance, any speed, you pick, Just. Be. There.

Experience is key. Moving through nature inspires thought, contemplation, wonder, and broadened possibilities. Getting kids past their thumbs for a while and up to their calves in cascading water will open their eyes, fire up their balance, and make them reach. When kids see places utterly different than their personal spaces, they are inspired to travel, consider other cultures, and imagine more destinations. Experience breeds courage, confidence, and further exploration; what a kid experiences outdoors is theirs for their lifetime. Never to be forgotten or taken away, experience helps build who we are, how we see the world, and what we value.

A vigorous jaunt outdoors often delivers us home, worn out, ready for a bath, and full of dreams. Things popping up in our hearts and minds when we aren't distracted. Dreams remind us there is more to life than working and dying; kids must learn this early on. Dreams are the advocates of our true desires, passions, and purpose. When we allow ourselves to dream of things we want to accomplish and places we want to go, we broaden our opportunities beyond the realm of jobs and duties. Kids deserve to act on their dreams. Not the dreams their parents have for them, not the dreams TV, movies, and media try to plug into their heads, but their dreams. Dreams original to their hearts and minds. Never underestimate the power of pursuing one's dreams.

Children will thrive when they learn to love, trust, GO, experience, and dream. They will live above the fray of survival in an ever-consuming world. Getting outdoors regularly, like many other activities, can last a lifetime. While kids experience the physicality of the outdoors at a younger age, they will grow older, finding calm, solace, and peace in the great outdoors, embracing their place on the planet, and knowing it's the most natural place to breathe, walk, heal, and just be.

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