Enjoy the Great Outdoors: A 2,000 Mile Canoe Journey Reminds Us About America’s Natural Beauty

freeman photo

Dave Freeman is the cofounder of Wilderness Classroom, an advocacy group that reminds kids to explore the great outdoors. You don’t have to go far in our country to find adventure, so get going. 

“It’s a big, wild world,” said Freeman, “and I want you to go out and explore it.”

Freeman and his wife Amy recently completed a 100 day, 2,000 mile canoe trip from Minnesota to Washington D.C. to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Signed in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson, the act established the 758 wilderness areas covering almost 110 million acres across the nation, according to USDA.

“This anniversary year provides a wonderful opportunity for us to re-affirm our commitment to wilderness stewardship and to engage the public, particularly youth, in opportunities for a better understanding and appreciation of wilderness benefits — clean air and water, natural settings, critical plant and wildlife habitat, solitude, recreation, spiritual renewal, and economic benefits,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

Part of the voyage was through the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, a portion of the great outdoors originally set aside. Freeman wants to remind us of the importance of these lands so that future generations will also get to enjoy them. Along the way the couple allowed students to come along on the adventure with educational updates, video conferencing, and other activities designed to involve kids. The couple is also concerned with protecting Boundary Waters from sulfide mining pollution.

“My dad took (us) camping in the Boundary Waters and lots of other wild places when we were young,” Freeman wrote on his website, reported on USDA. “Exposing young people to nature is critical, so please get outside and explore a wild place over the holidays and bring a kid or two with you.”

Freeman attended a fair put on by Wilderness Inquiry, a non profit with the goal of connecting people from all walks of life to the natural world. He spoke to 100 elementary school kids at Rawlins Park in Washington, D.C. about his journey through the great outdoors. Freeman even brought his trusty canoe Sigurd F. Olson, lovingly named after another native Minnesotan that fought to protect our nation’s public lands. Sig, the canoe was blanketed with signatures of fellow nature lovers they met along the way.

This is a great reminder for parents to take their kids outside. While reading about adventure is important, experiencing that adventure firsthand is even better. Spend as much time as possible exploring the outdoors with your kids to remind yourself and teach your children how important it is to protect the wilderness so we have it for years to come. And it doesn’t have to be a huge adventure like this one. Go for a hike, plan a weekend camping trip, or go surfing. Big or small, just being outdoors is a form of advocacy.

Related on EcoSalon

6 Picnic Ideas to Master the Art of Eating Outdoors

The Killer Picnic, 10 Rules for Successfully Eating Outdoors

From the Vault: The Call of the Great Outdoors

Image: Wilderness Classroom