CYO/Camp Howard photo
The paintball arena is popular at Camp Howard.
CYO/Camp Howard photo
The paintball arena is popular at Camp Howard.
I’m not sure what it was like growing up in the city in the '60s and '70s, but as a youth on the farm in Eastern Oregon, we were outdoors as much as possible.

My grandfather from Indiana came out one summer and we showed him our “gold mine,” which was a rocky area on a hill near our house. I’m not sure why we called it our gold mine, but it was one of our many play areas.

To our surprise, the next time we visited the spot there were several pieces of gold spread around the area. Grandpa had purchased some gold spray paint and sprayed some gravel the bright shiny color and salted the mine on us. We were believers.

Our gold mine was just one example of the hundreds of outdoor adventures, experiences and memories we made growing up.

Most of my family has moved to town, as is the tradition of farm families. One of the family stays on the farm to operate it and the others move to other areas of employment.

Watching my nieces and nephews grow up in town these past 20 years has been very different from my own childhood experiences.

I have to believe it is not much different from what other families in town experience these days and the theme would be caution and fear. We have to be careful about where the kids are at all times. We are fearful of the people they might come in contact with. Many youths have not been able to have the adventures and exploration we enjoyed as children.

Parents and educators are increasingly concerned about the disconnect between children and nature in the present age and it causes us to pause and consider the kind of future we are creating for our children.

This disconnect from nature coupled with a sedentary life has serious implications for the long-term health and well-being of our children.

For the first time, it is being suggested that member of the next generation will have a shorter life expectancy that their parents.

How do we get things turned around? Fortunately we have a great sport program offered through CYO that keeps the kids busy and active throughout their grade school years. Participation in sports is one way to keep kids active and healthy.

Getting kids back into the woods and into nature is another issue. It is critical that we get them unplugged from their electronic devices from time to time and in touch with nature and the great outdoors.

Camp Howard is a good start in that direction. The camp was a gift to our youth 60 years ago and it's a gift we would like to see each of our youths claim as part of their experience growing up in the Pacific Northwest.

Grandpa and Grandma, if you are reading this, perhaps you have a role to play here. Have you considered sending a grandchild to camp? What a great way to invest in the future of your family. What, no grandkids? There are all kinds of kids out there who would benefit from a trip to camp. You could send someone else’s child to camp.

As adults we have the ability to help make great memories, which our children will take into adulthood from their youth. I hope you will join CYO/Camp Howard and help us make great memories for children.