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  lit things on fire. I explored wild places and got bitten, stung, cut, scraped, and have the scars to prove it.
And despite those seemingly negative interactions, I learned where the boundaries were. I made discover- ies, I used my imagination to dream up vivid stories
of what might be, and I made assumptions based on my own inquisitiveness. None of this would have been possible without my parents allowing for these experi- ences to take place. I also want to acknowledge that they helped to facilitate some of them directly, and other times they allowed me to have these experiences on my own by giving me the opportunity to explore independently, without guidance. They left the porch light on, and I always found my way back.
The first thing I’d suggest is to consider your own impression of the outdoors and how you express yourself about all things wild. Do you convey a sense of wonder, curiosity, and maybe a sense of grit in relation to the outdoors? Or do you frequently show apprehension, fear, or a sense of being uncomfortable? This could be in relation to simple things like bugs, the weather, or even being in the woods or tall grass. Children easily pick up on our cues, and if we present as bothered, grossed out, or scared, they’ll pick up
on this vibe and likely emulate these reactions. If we show a genuine excitement for new discoveries, and a tolerance for things like bugs or briars, you’ll likely see more buy-in. But not always. My granddaughter hates bugs, but loves the outdoors!
A simple first step is to look at your own back yard, where many new adventures await, with fresh eyes. “What types of wildlife lives here? Hey, what’s under this rock or log? What’s growing here? How do the things that live here interact?” Begin to explore,
and if you don’t know the answers, that’s just fine because it’s not important that you know the answers, rather it’s more valuable to pose the question, “What do you think it is?” You can discover the answers together, and it’s the brief moment of inquiry that
is so important developmentally. Children need to think, wonder, problem-solve, and draw connections as they process these simple situations to build a foundation of inquisitive exploration. I grew up with the old standbys, the Peterson’s Field Guide to X, Y, Z ... Fishes, Bugs, Mammals, Amphibians, you name it.
I burned through the pages looking at pictures, and I started to get a better understanding about what I was finding on my adventures. Today, we have Google. But do yourself a favor, and buy a few field guides ...
One of my favorite activities with my first born was to go out on the back porch in the morning and discover all of the various moths and bugs that took residence overnight. We used push pins, and collected specimens of each type we found, then put them on a

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