Pointing our kids to the outdoors

This editorial concerns a story that hasn’t even run in our paper. It’s about a meeting held a couple of weeks ago (by the time you read this) in which local folks involved in the outdoors, involved with kids, or both, got together to talk about how to encourage young people to be active in the outdoors.

We were there. It was a productive meeting in terms of getting information onto the table about what people’s interests and offerings were in this area. We even produced a story about it, but it got pushed out last week and this week by other pressing news stories.

So if you want to learn more about what happened, you can read all about it at sweethomenews.com/index89.htm. Since the story didn’t appear in the paper, we’ll keep it “open” to non-subscribers, which really shouldn’t be too many of you, since print subscribers are eligible to have free access to the web. But that’s another story.

Fact is, there’s been increasing talk about the value of engagement with the outdoors in recent months. We’re talking about physical activity. About interaction with the natural world outside our homes. About the value of physical activity, not just for kids who win championships like some our swimmers have in recent weeks, but all those kids we see walking along the sidewalks after school lets out. Of course, the fact that they walk has benefits that being picked up in a car may not, but many of these kids could really benefit from more activity, not just physically.

Anyone who has lived in a metropolis knows that Sweet Home is richly blessed with incredible outdoor beauty and experiences just waiting to happen.

It behooves us to figure out ways to help our children appreciate the natural wonders that surround us. There are people who are working toward that end. There can always be more.

As we report on page 1, next Monday will mark the signing of a document pledging cooperation by three dozen government agencies and others to make the outdoors more accessible to Sweet Home residents and visitors.

How all this ties together should be getting clearer. Helping kids get involved in the outdoors now will ready them to handle the stream of visitors that will likely materialize as improved camping, hiking, boating, biking and other recreational facilities take shape in and around Sweet Home.

Engaging with the outdoors will also position our young people to take advantage of opportunities that will materialize if District Ranger Cindy Glick’s vision of a working forest comes about – economically viable woodlands and mountains and waterways that produce renewable resources that bring money into Sweet Home.

It could be what are now logging waste products. It could be speciality plants and herbs. It could be the result of thinning and other responsible forestry methods that are long overdue in our area. It could be something else.

There are some big players in this: The governor’s office. The Oregon State University School of Forestry. State and federal forestry agencies. Environmental agencies. They are coming together with a common goal of making something positive happen here, getting people to work together to achieve something that will be a benefit for everybody who lives in the Sweet Home community, directly or indirectly.

That’s why people are thinking about kids. Not too long down the road, I and others who were sitting in that meeting will be old and gray and our kids will be running the show. We want it to be a good show.

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On an entirely different subject, another critical meeting is taking place Wednesday evening, March 5, at the police station: the Sweet Home Economic Development Group’s annual membership meeting.

If you’re interested in what’s going on in SHEDG, if you’d like to see who’s running the show, this is the night to find out. Go to the meeting, pay the $15 membership fee that makes you a member of SHEDG, and sit and listen. If you feel so inclined, vote for people you think would be assets on the Board of Directors.

This is your chance to get a sense of what’s happening. There aren’t many others.