Historically, rural communities have provided their local youth with few opportunities for structured recreation beyond the scope of school sports or summer youth program offerings.
Most small towns don't have the malls, gyms, movie theaters or civic centers typically found in larger communities. Recreation is often left to a child's imagination, which can be a positive or negative outlet, depending on the direction we provide.
Today's kids are presented with a wealth of electronic attractions ranging from computers, to video games to cell phones and beyond. They will make due with the resources that are available to them.
In the Adirondacks, the most readily available local recreational resources are our woods and waters. The region is blessed with a wealth of natural attractions that attract travelers from all over the world to play in our big backyard.
In recent years, I've researched a number of opportunities and programs designed to introduce local children to the outdoors. I've been encouraged with what I've found and I'm thrilled with the range and diversity of the offerings.
Throughout the Adirondacks, there are numerous opportunities for children, and their parents to develop the appropriate skills, outdoor education and appreciation to effectively enjoy the local environment. Best of all, most of the programs are offered at little or no cost.
If our children don't possess the necessary tools, skills and knowledge to utilize their surroundings, they are severely disadvantaged and underprivileged. It is a fact of life in the North Country, we must provide our own recreation!
We go outside because it is in our nature to go outside. We go out to climb the mountains and to paddle the rivers, to fish the streams, to photograph the scenes and to plunge into the ponds or ski the hills.
We do such things to stay in touch with something inside our being, to expand our horizons and to test ourselves. When we cease to do such things we are no longer alive, we are simply existing.