When Eric’s parents were visiting Oregon this summer, we took a camping trip at Milo McIver State Park. It was the girls’ first camping trip of the year, and I wanted to help make it special. (Yes, I know the very fact of spending all day outside and roasting marshmallows make camping special without any extras. But still.) I pulled inspiration from one of our favorite books, Lulu & Pip, and made camping dolls for the girls.
The camping dolls were an instant hit. The dolls went with us everywhere, from a hike to the camp chairs beside the fire. They got dirty. They got chewed on. They earned their title of camping dolls.
And my hope was realized: The camping dolls helped make our camping trip unforgettable.
There has never been a more important time to raise a conservationist. Every day headlines bring more bad news about droughts, climate change, melting polar ice, threatened species and deforestation. I couldn’t blame you for being depressed.
Yet there is room for hope, and perhaps the best way to ensure a better world for our children is to raise a conservationist right in your own home.
After all, kids are more likely to teach each other lessons that will stick. (Have you ever heard a kid tell a peer to recycle something or turn out the lights? They’re way more likely to listen than to another parent’s lecture!)
Kids also encourage their families to make positive changes for the environment. I remember becoming a vegetarian in high school, largely because of environmental reasons, and sharing what I learned with my parents. I definitely didn’t convert anyone (nor was I trying to), but my parents started to serve more plant-based foods that had a smaller environmental impact.
Perhaps the most impactful (and easiest) way to raise a conservationist is to simply get outside: A study from Cornell University found that the more time a child under the age of 11 spent outdoors, the more likely he or she was to care about the environment as an adult. The impacts of Vitamin N, as outdoor time is sometimes called, translate into action, too: Adults who spent time outside when they were growing up were more likely to take action to protect the environment.
You don’t have to stop there, though. These 7 ways to raise a conservationist won’t take a ton of effort but can mean a world of difference for the planet.
Having a bunch of blogger friends is the best. They’re like a combination of the hive mind, Yelp, google and a travel agent, except with really awesome photo skills. When I need recommendations on where to eat or what to do in Portland, Oregon, I ask my Portland bloggers buds first; ditto where to stay at the coast, or what to cook for an upcoming BBQ. So when I wanted to collect a bunch of must-do family and kids activities in Portland, I knew who to ask.
I posed this question in a handful of Portland bloggers groups I belong to:
When friends and their family visit Portland from out of town, where do you send them?
Lucky for me (and you!) they sent a bunch of responses. Read on for insider tips, recommendations and curated travel plans for the best Portland family-friendly spots and kids activities!
Truth be told, we aren’t huge on holidays or anniversaries around here (with the exception of Christmas—which we call XMAS XMAS!!!). But Father’s Day is this weekend, and I wanted to involve my kids in doing something special for Eric, who is truly a phenomenal dad. The trick: Their attention spans are short. Kiwi is a disaster with paint, which rules out most Father’s Day crafts. And they’re much more interested in doing stuff with their dad than spending an afternoon making him a photo frame out of popsicle sticks. So this year, we devised a Father’s Day scavenger hunt.
One reason I’m excited about a Father’s Day scavenger hunt is that it doesn’t take a ton of commitment or prepping. All I needed to do was take a few photos of the kids (which in itself is no small feat, considering their semi-disastrous history with photo shoots). The girls didn’t have to do a ton. They can save their Father’s Day enthusiasm for the day-of, when they’ll get to “help” their dad find his prize!
So if you’re looking for a last-minute Father’s Day gift, this scavenger hunt—made with just a few photos, lots of chalk and a little imagination—is the perfect way to tell dad “I love you!”
A little while back, I took up PDX Parent‘s #GetOutside Challenge: to spend at least an hour outdoors with the kids, rain or shine. I wrote about the seven days of puddle-stomping, worm-examining, trampoline-jumping here.
We’ve had a beautiful, warm, sunny week, but today the weather is back to Oregon’s usual rainy self. I learned on the #GetOutside Challenge that a little rain is no reason to stay indoors.
In fact, there are benefits to heading outside on a rainy day:
There’s no one else at the playground/park/hiking trail!
Kids love rain gear. Peeper gets so excited to wear her firefighter rain jacket!
It shows kids the importance of being active, even if it’s crummy outside.
It gets stir-crazy kids out of the house.
It gets stir-crazy parents out of the house.
So while I am missing the sun today, the rainy forecast won’t keep me from getting outside with the kids this weekend. We’ll just pack a dry set of clothes, pull on our boots and stomp every darn puddle we can!
Lately, Peeper is fascinated by combining complementary things. “Together!” she cries, popping a bite of cheese and hot dog into her mouth, or “Pomegranate on top!” while balancing a seed on a forkful of peas and tofu.
Her enthusiasm makes me think of the scene in Ratatouille when Remy discovers how two tastes together can pop like fireworks or melt together for a transcendent out-of-body experience.
The other day, I followed her lead. Peeper loves art, and she loves the outdoors. So voila: nature painting!