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Taking the Kids on a Hike | A Cup of Jo

Oh man, I’m a professional field geologist, so hiking, camping, and backpacking are literally my job. But my family didn’t do anything like that when I was growing up, and people usually marvel when they learn that — the idea that you can have an outdoorsy career having grown up in a distinctly “non-outdoorsy” kind of family.

But the way I see it now is that my family was outdoorsy, just not in an American cultural/REI kind of way. We spent plenty of time outside. And I got to explore and just wander around, without the forced structure hikes must seem to have for little kids. The most we’d do was “beach walks,” since I grew up on the coast, but it was more about ambling along the beach (in fall through spring weather) until we felt like turning back for the car. You could stop to poke at rocks or shells, stare at the waves, but there was no designated lookout spot or end goal, except maybe that if you went far enough it was faster to loop all the way around this inlet rather than double back to the car.

And now that I hike professionally with all kinds of strict structure and goals in mind, I think my childhood “non-outdoorsy” outside time was the best preparation possible for a career like mine.

Okay I also understand this was a cartoon! And I love it. I just also think maybe parents don’t need to be so hard on themselves about creating the “right” experiences from an adult viewpoint.

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