The message is often announced and equally heard — take a kid outdoors — I appreciate that message and echo it often myself. One grand benefit the great outdoors offers is that everyone is welcome out there. No matter the physical abilities, beliefs or disbeliefs, or age. So reach out to the other end of the age rainbow and invite a senior citizen to join you on an outdoors excursion.
Many programs are in motion to get senior citizens out and about; to support positive physical and mental health. But what about those seniors that spent numerous summer weekends baiting hooks, pitching tents and leading hikes for their family? The ones that prefer to hike or sit next to a quiet lake instead of playing another game of bingo. There are national organizations that focus on the outdoors and conservation that hold programs for seniors. That's great, but there are still many older folks that are not encouraged to lace up a pair of walking shoes or boots and hit a trail for a few or few hundred steps.
What about you? Do you have a relative or neighbor that has shared stories about the days gone by that included outdoors adventures? If so, I encourage you to join them for a walk around the backyard, a park or down a designated hiking trail, and feel the memories from the older ones as he or she reflects.
I've been involved with several programs presented by outdoors-themed organizations that targeted youth. The programs are designed to lure the kids out of the house and away from video games and become connected to the real world — the natural world. Fellow members of these organizations, senior members, possibly gain equally as much from spending time with the kids as the kids gain from the event.
Spending time with our seniors is not only important, it's an honor. The wealth of wisdom and camaraderie that is there to be gained should not be missed out on by the younger generations. Watching the invisible wall melt away between a senior and a teenager is a wonderful act to witness. It just takes a few minutes to invite a senior to join you (and the kids) on your next hike — short or long, whatever the senior can comfortably manage. The minutes spent with an elderly friend or family member will be the seeds for new memories that will last a lifetime.