According to Bangor Daily News, the Sears Island Kids' Winter Survival Program was at capacity last week with eager young'uns scrambling through the Sears Island wilderness and learning crucial wilderness lessons like setting a fire and building a lean-to shelter. I grew up off the grid and always took for granted my inherent exposure to the outdoors. My brother, my (miles-away) neighbors and I entertained ourselves digging secret forts in the woods, climbing trees to hide from each other, and getting wholly obsessed with tiny marvels like ant lions, and vast spectacles like the big dipper and meteor showers.

I realize it's not common to live somewhere so rural that these wonders are unavoidable, and Il'l likely raise my own kids in at least a semi-urban setting in which I'll have to seek out wilderness exposure for my own kids. Taking into account these hurdles, I maintain that enrolling kids in wilderness programs like the one on Sears Island is of utmost importance and I'll tell you why.

1) They'll Have Interesting Stories And Will Make More Friends

Let's be honest; no one wants to hear your kid talk about Paw Patrol or whatever Netflix show is trending right now. If your daughter starts dropping facts about how deer stick to the south face of the mountain to survive a cold snap, kids and adults alike will tune in and actually enjoy conversing with your kid.

2) They Won't Be Afraid of the Woods

It saddens me how many of my friends are legitimately terrified of the forest, thanks largely to movies like Cabin Fever and The Blair Witch Project. They view it as a dark abyss filled with killers and mystery. If they had been enlightened to simple survival skills, or even spent marginally more time in the woods as kids, they'd likely feel more at home among the trees, like me. Granted, I find large cities terrifying because I'm about as street-savvy as a starfish. Let's aim for a healthy balance, people.

3) They'll Have Rich Interests When They Grow Up

We don't need another adult whose only "hobby" is Netflix and Chill. There's a time and a place for binge-watching the most dramatic season yet of the Bachelor, but it's shouldn't be your go-to every weekend. Don't you wish your parents had taught you how to ice skate, waterski, or rock climb? Some of these hobbies are ones you can pick up as adults, but the vast majority are so important to start out when you're young in order to build a strong foundation that your kids can explore more thoroughly as adults if they're interested. Yeah, old dogs can learn new tricks; but it's sooo much easier for puppies.

4) They'll Enjoy a Challenge

I'll be the first to admit that it's always tempting to turn down an invite to a strenuous activity. In terms of how much sweet relief it can grant you, canceling plans is essentially crystal meth. But if you can interrupt that association of going outside and "hard work," you can inject so much fun and curiosity into your kids' brains that their sense of adventure outweighs their sense of foreboding. I don't know why I enjoy the struggle of off-the-grid camping so much more than an easy night of video games, but I do. Once you've tasted the satisfaction of conquering wilderness challenges, it provides a new high. Your kids will find themselves chasing it over and over.

5) They'll Be Tired

If nothing else has convinced you to seek wilderness programs for your kids this spring and summer, realize this: your kids will. be. exhausted. And for that matter, so will you! Nothing is more satisfying than using your body for the role it was intended: hitting the hiking trail, climbing a tree, building a structure, and getting completely wiped out. Your kids won't know what hit them, and you can pick your chin up off the floor when they ask, "is it bedtime yet?"


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