by Abby McAllister
Well, now that the hustle and bustle of Christmas has passed us by once again, it is time to start looking ahead to 2021. This sweet and quiet time between Christmas and New Years is typically a time people use to reflect on the past year and set goals (dare we say "resolutions"?) for the year to come. After the year we've just been through I suspect that there will be a lot less goal setting and a lot more "wait and see" attitudes. One thing 2020 taught us was that we have a lot less control over our lives and plans than we thought. I think that's made us much more flexible and elastic in how we look at our lives and plans.
However, I do think we are generally hopeful for a return to "normal" (at least what was considered normal before 2020). I think we may be willing to make small, tentative goals and plans, with all our newfound flexibility there to back us up if things don't go the way we hope.
With those thoughts in mind, my husband and I are starting to plan a few National Park trips for our family for the coming year. Taking stock we realized that our 4 newest kids have never been to a national park here in the US. Since their adoption from Colombia 2 years ago life was first hectic and really difficult (trying to add 4 kids simultaneously with all their trauma and culture shock is not to be taken lightly!) and then slowed to an almost stand-still due to COVID. We just haven't had the capability or time to get these newer members of our family into the parks. We've gotten them outside for hiking, rafting, hunting, mountain biking and dog training but not specifically to a National Park. It's time.
It's also time to start your planning for summer trips to the parks. Yes, it seems early but if you plan to make any kind of reservations (camping, tours, permits etc) many venues start taking reservations up to 6 months in advance! It's time people. Dust off your dreams and aspirations of getting your kids outside and start to think about where you might take them this year. It's time to plan on how you will build confidence and self-esteem into your kids by challenging them to do something harder than they've done before. It's time to see the wonder in their eyes and the laughter as they dance through the woods-a natural playground for kids. It's time to let them bathe in the beauty and serenity of nature, away from the screens we've all had to come to grips with. There is no educator like nature. It's time to get those kids outside! Let's do some dreaming and planning together.
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We, Harley and Abby, are the parents of 7 boys and 1 girl whom we regularly drag into any and every national park we come near to. We love our parks and know that the only chance we have of keeping and maintaining this priceless resource is to give our children a love of them too.