In 2005, author Richard Louv came out with his groundbreaking “Last Child in the Woods,” an account of how our kids have gone from being weaned in the wild to garrisoned in the great room in less than a generation.
Within a year, Liz Baird, director of school programs for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, had launched Take A Child Outside Week, an effort to ensure that for at least one week a year, kids had ample opportunity to play outdoors. By 2010, her effort had been embraced by more than 400 partners — various agencies with a stake in kids, the outdoors or both — in all 50 states and four foreign countries.
At the time, Baird said: “I recently compared it to a ball rolling down hill. We just gave it a push and it continues to spin faster and faster. I now have people seeking me out to become a partner.”
Today, Take A Child Outside Week, which begins on Sunday, Sept. 24, and runs through Sept. 30, continues to flourish. Hundreds of opportunities to get your kids outdoors are planned in North Carolina alone. For instance, in North Carolina’s State Parks alone, you’ll find:
- Painting the Mountain, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson: Using tempera paints and brushes, kids spend an hour painting scenes from atop Mount Jefferson. All supplies are free.
- Canoe Excursion, Monday, Sept. 25, 9 a.m., Lake James State Park, Nebo: Paddle the Paddy’s Creek Area with a ranger.
- Hike Jude’s Gap Historic Trail, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 10 a.m., Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock: two-mile hike that’s part of the Carolina Land Conservancy’s hiking badge program.
- Fishing Occoneechee, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough: Learn to bait a hook and cast; all equipment provided.
- Natural Side of Fort Macon, Thursday, Sept. 28, 10 a.m., Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach: Leisurely hike exploring beach and trail at the fort.
- Mammals of Stone Mountain, Friday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap: Join a ranger to learn about the animals that call Stone Mountain home.
- Sunset Hike, Saturday, Sept. 30, 6:45 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap: A mile and a half hike topped by sunset atop Stone Mountain.
Find details on all of these events here.
And if you’re looking for inspiration to take your kids outside, look no farther than Jennifer Pharr Davis. On Aug. 15, Davis, a hiker of renown, set off from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to hike the entire 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail, much of it with her family: husband Brew, 4-year-old daughter Charley and on-the-cusp-of-1 Gus. Follow her adventure — and get inspired — on Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website.
Find more opportunities to spend time outside with a youngster at the Take A Child Outside website.