Last weekend, I went to a funeral. My mom’s sister Kay died. Something about the day, something about the funeral, something about being in the 2nd row behind the immediate family, really touched me. I know it is all part of the cycle of life, but when I stop to reflect on it…well….the little details of the day fall off, and the big important things, and the significant people in my life slide into perspective.

All 12 cousins from that side of the family came…from California, Washington DC, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin….

All the cliches flooded in. How is it that we all got so OLD? These did it come to be that we’re all in our 40s?? When did that happen? We had some time to reminisce together, but I’ve been doing plenty of that myself this week. Those years….between birth and age 16…they really are larger than life. They have such an impact on who we become.

They’re brief, they’re short-lived, but they’re hugely important.

I’ve been looking at old photos of those days. My memories with my siblings and cousins—almost always outside, in the lake, in the woods, on the farm.

I never realized how LUCKY we were…to spend time together, and to spend time in the natural world. We were lucky that our parents planned it that way.

Was it because life was simpler then? I don’t really know if we were short on disposable income.? Is that why we always camped? It didn’t occur to me.

I just thought that’s what families did together. You went outside……you went where kids could run around without wrecking things.

Where we learned about the world. Where everything was funnier…freer….exciting…an adventure.

And maybe because our parents were young…the adults always played with us.

And these are the moments that I remember.

These are the memories that I want my kids to have.

The fleeting childhood years….they pass quickly if we don’t take time for that type of thing.
We have wonderful technological advances…all kinds of enriching activities…the competition for kids’ time is stiff.

But…..will anyone have larger than life memories of screen time? Will my kids and their future partners and peers have enough time for free play???
Will they have days where the open hours lay before them—when nothing is planned and the adventures unfold? How else will they get to know their siblings and cousins ? When they see them and they’re 40—will they still feel flooded with all of those stories?

We really want to make the transition to the BWCAW easy for busy families. Currently, the outfitters on the Gunflint Trail, along with the USFS are working on a program called Becoming A Boundary Waters Family.

As adults, we all know how imperative it is that kids grow up with first hand experience with the natural world….that the benefits are immense…and the family memories are priceless. Childhood is too important to miss those moments.