In June, my family and I rented a rustic cabin in Maggie Valley, a town of 1,150 residents surrounded by North Carolina’s picturesque Smoky Mountains. It was the closest to camping we have come with our 19-month-old son.
Each morning, my dad would take him for a walk to a nearby stream where he taught him how to skip rocks. Our little guy delighted in these walks. He picked up sticks. He chased ducks. He cried when it was time to come inside for lunch.
Raising a child in a tech-obsessed world, you worry that he will miss out on the joys of the great outdoors. As an Army brat, I spent most of my childhood in Alaska. Each summer, we made the 362-mile drive from Fairbanks to Valdez in the family RV. Our annual camping trips are some of my most cherished childhood memories. We fished, sung campfire songs, and often just sat on a rock staring in awe of Mother Nature’s mystifying beauty.
After we got home from the mountains, I got the fever to find places for local outdoor family outings in the Triangle. Keeping a toddler entertained is no small task. On my mother-in-law’s recommendation, we took our son to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. We rode the train. We saw alpacas, a sleepy donkey and three bears sunning themselves in the grass.
Our son’s favorite exhibit was “Into the Mist.” He delighted in running through grassy fields and watching rainbows form in the mist. We had to drag him away screaming when it was time to go home.
To my delight, our son seems to have embraced our nature-centric adventures. My husband and I hope to build on his enthusiasm by encouraging him to play outside, go camping, visit the Zoo and do anything else that requires us to unplug and slather ourselves in sunscreen.
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Go ‘Into the Mist’
Learn more about “Into the Mist” and many other exhibits at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham by visiting lifeandscience.org.