Humans of the Outdoors: Meghan

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Humans of the Outdoors- Meghan - mamanonthetrail.com

A note from Maman on the Trail:

Meet Meghan, a human of the outdoors. Meghan lives in Louviers, Colorado and gets outdoors with her husband and their two sons, ages 12 and 10, plus their two dogs. Here is her story…

On her time outdoors…

The quick facts: We hike, climb 14ers, camp, ski and snowshoe. We live in a rural community in Colorado and are surrounded by open space that we love to explore. Both of our kids go to an Outward Bound elementary school and we participate in their Voyages twice a year.

Humans of the Outdoors- Meghan - mamanonthetrail.comThe details: I am a native of Colorado, USA. We live in a small town named Louviers (only 250 residents) located along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. My children are the 4th generation of our family to live in our house which is over 100 years old. Our home is on the outskirts of town surrounded by open space. From our backyard we have miles of land to discover and creek beds to explore. The area surrounding our “village” as they call it, attracts black bear, mountain lions, elk, mule deer, coyote, beaver and hundreds of species of birds (including the Great Horned Owl who nests in our trees).

We spend time outdoors as a family of four plus two dogs. Our son, Carter, is 12 and his little brother, Will, is 10. We have a Border Collie named Gus and recently adopted a Labrador puppy named Georgia. Our kids inspire us to get outside. We believe experiences are more important than things. We want our kids to have the same sense of wonder and stewardship for their surroundings as we do. We try to show, not tell, about a healthy outdoors kind of lifestyle.

Our favorite outing as a family is to go skiing. Wherever we are, we like to use the resources available to us. My husband is on the National Ski Patrol and that gives us the opportunity to spend time on the mountain while he is volunteering. Near our home we explore the open space around our house and it’s a place the dogs get the opportunity to run free and explore all the smells. In the summer both the dogs and the boys enjoy the creek and in the winter we use the hills for sledding.

On Outward Bound schooling…

My boys go to a school that focuses on Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound principals and embodies Kurt Hahn’s philosophy: “We are crew, not passengers.” The kids are required to go on two Voyages every year, starting in kindergarten. They spend nights away from home with their classmates and teacher. The little kids stay in bunk houses and as they grow older learn to exist outdoors on their overnights. My 12-year old spent 4 days/3 nights backpacking for his fall voyage. They climbed a mountain that was 13,000 feet and slept outside under a shelter they made themselves. This year on his winter Voyage, my 10-year old will sleep in a bunk house at night, but spend his days cross country skiing to an outdoor learning environment. Last year the kids learned how to analyze snow pack and very basic avalanche awareness. This is not a manufactured experience, but a real opportunity for self discovery and a chance to build crew. The kids are in the elements, rain or shine or snow. For some children this is completely out of their comfort zone. They are asked what they can do easily and what they cannot imagine doing. They are constantly checking in about what feels comfortable and how they can move into a growth mindset.

Humans of the Outdoors- Meghan - mamanonthetrail.com

On living on the road for a spell…

I quit my job last year and we took our kids on a 7-month road trip around the US. We left our home and school and had the best adventure really seeing the people and places of our own country. I wrote about all of it, including road school, on our travel blog.

For 22 years I had a career outside the home as an accountant. When we had children, my husband stayed home with them and I continued to work. We were pretty miserable with that arrangement. No judgement on others, but it didn’t work for our family. We dreamed of going on an around-the-world trip with our kids about the time our oldest was 10. It seemed like an impossibility both financially and logistically. We adjusted our thinking and wondered about a trip around the US. It was a good time for both of us to make career transitions and we began planning for that with our dream trip in the middle. It took us over a year to get the trip planned, money saved and the resignation from our day jobs (my husband remained a parent). We met with the principal at school and she said, “The world is the best classroom. Dream Big!  We’ll be waiting for you when you get back!”

My husband worked in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming for the summer and we used his parents’ house as our launch pad for exploring.  While he worked, we visited Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. We took our first trip to Canada and also explored Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. During the summer we made a budget for our trip that was true to our savings and allowed for two days at Harry Potter in Florida (our biggest luxury). We travelled to 26 states with our popup camper in tow. We granted ourselves every third day in a motel for showers and a soft bed. Our only requirements for lodging was free breakfast, free parking and free wi-fi. In hindsight, the popup camper was a burden. We didn’t factor in the time for setting up. We longed for a hard sided camper throughout our trip and coveted every last one as we drove by RV lots. As we headed into the winter months, we stored the camper and stayed with friends and family for much of December.

This trip was the best thing. I would suggest it to anyone who says, “I could never…” There are a million reasons not to do the thing you’ve always dreamed of. In the end it all works out. All of the worries subside. Before our trip, our family had become so disconnected and we were moving in different directions. The time we had together reminded us that we are parts of a whole. We need to move towards each other rather than away. The kid years can be so busy. We made a choice to take a break from that kind of life and re-prioritize our family. Anytime you give yourself the opportunity to get outside the box, either mentally or physically, your life will transform and you will grow and learn in infinite proportions.

On the notion of “road school”…

The amazing thing about our 7-month road trip around the US was the level of connectedness we had with each other and our country. We saw things we had only read about in books. We went places we had never been before. And we did it together. We will always have this experience to bind us.

As a parent of older children I was curious how school would look. My boys called themselves Road Scholars. I had a vision of what road school would look like and it was very in the box, rule following, worry wort mother of me. I was a bit afraid of what it would be like for them coming back into the traditional school system after an extended absence. We are curious learners and authentic learning happens in the world, not Louviers in a classroom.

For the most part we gave up on the notion of traditional learning and embraced the opportunity to explore our world. I literally threw away the school books we brought. We met real people from history. We talked to strangers about where they live. We explored nature and the different landscapes and environments across the country. We experienced unique cultures. We used the National Park system to guide our learning in specific ways using the Junior Ranger Program to give the boys reading and writing opportunities. We played a million games (especially math) and we read the entire Harry Potter series aloud. In the end, my worry about education was solved by letting go of social norms and allowing the experiences to happen all around us. We are lifelong learners (especially as parents). When the kids went back to school they picked right up as if they had never left.

Humans of the Outdoors- Meghan - mamanonthetrail.com

A little Q & A…

Q: What is your go-to adventure snack?

A: Kate’s Grizzly Bars*.

Q: What piece of gear do you never leave the house without?

A: We always seem to have our National Parks Pass (we have a free 4th grade pass!!!) and the kids’ Park Passports.

Q: What is your favourite nature quote, and who said it first?

A: “How we treat our land, how we build upon it, how we act toward our air and water, will in the long run tell what kind of people we really are.” ~ Laurance S. Rockefeller

Q: What one piece of advice would you share with someone who is wary of or new to the outdoors?

A: Going into nature with a curious mindset is key. Try something just a bit outside your comfort zone, even if it’s hiking on a dirt trail rather than a paved trail. Notice what was easy and what was hard, what worked and what didn’t. On your next adventure, take one more step away from your comfort zone using the knowledge you gained from previous experiences. Always put one foot in front of the other.

Humans of the Outdoors- Meghan - mamanonthetrail.com

For more of Meghan’s stories and adventures, you can check out her blog, Rambling on a Rural Road, or follow her on Instagram, @meghanstclair.

Do you want to be featured as a Human of the Outdoors? Check out the Call for Entries and fill out the form today!

 

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7 thoughts on “Humans of the Outdoors: Meghan

  1. Amber Ludwig

    This is amazing!! I am loving the outbound learning program!! I wish I had something like that in my area!! I also love that you guys traveled all over!! We’d LOVE to be able to do that someday!!

    Reply

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