Wild weather gives way to Indian Summer

Notes from the North Woods

A look at picturesque Lake Henderson in the Tahawus tract.

A look at picturesque Lake Henderson in the Tahawus tract. Photo by Joe Hackett.

Numerous studies have revealed outdoor activity is beneficial to our overall physical and mental health. Outdoor pursuits help to prevent heart disease, decrease hypertension, lower cholesterol levels and reduce weight, improve symptoms of osteoporosis and arthritis, help to control diabetes and also relieve back pain. Outdoor recreation is great way to manage stress, and to learn about personal responsibilities and individual achievement. Outdoor travel instills confidence and competence. “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” Paul Dudley White, founder of preventive cardiology.

We are fat! More than a third of all American children and adolescents, roughly 17 million, are obese or at risk for obesity. The number of kids living with a chronic disease has more than quadrupled since 1960, from 1.8% to nearly 8% today.

“I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.” G.M. Trevelyan

For far too many families, the outdoors has become a place they visit only on rare occasions. Today’s over scheduled kids travel from school to organized activity and back home again. Is it any wonder they’ve been labeled the ‘backseat generation’?They’re never too far from the electronics, whether it is a laptop, a handheld digital game, or a video screen in the family SUV. And they’re rarely out of cellphone range or far from an electrical outlet.

Spending quality time outdoors, in the slower-paced, natural outdoor environment brings families together. Kids learn to respect and protect nature, as they become familiar with their surroundings. Children and parents learn to recognize their commonalities, and to share in the adventures.

For far too long, it has been assumed that all rural kids are born to be comfortable and confident in the outdoors. We reason that since they live in the country, they automatically know how to enjoy it. Sadly, outdoor skills and knowledge is not achieved by osmosis. Proximity does not instill competence, and even local kids must learn the skills necessary for land navigation, and outdoor travel. “Walking would teach people the quality that youngsters find so hard to learn - patience.” - Edward P. Weston, Father of Modern Pedestrianism - 1861

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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