Backpack of Memories

September 28, 2023
young girl sitting on her mother's lap on a dock holding a fishing pole and smiling at the camera.g

By Environmental Interpretation Intern Rhea Curlee for the October 4, 2023 issue of Now in Nature.

Think of your earliest memories of the natural world like a backpack that you carry. Is your backpack filled with fear and ick or curiosity and delight? Did your backpack get passed down by an older sibling, grandparent, or teacher?

My backpack is filled with memories of fishing with my parents. We’d wake with the sun to fish until the heat brought us home for lunch and naps. I loved to rock my body in unison with the boat as they'd cast out their last baited hook. I used to imagine the waves rolling under the boat were giant tamales and then as I got older, whales.

Naturally, those memories that I carry have made me more inclined to care about the natural world. Paying attention to the water, weather, and size of the fish we brought home to eat, I was taught at an early age to respect nature. Fortunately, my backpack has been jammed full of good but that’s not always the case for some. You may have a backpack that’s been passed down with memories of uneasiness around spiders or fear of birds. Even if our personal adult-sized backpacks might have less than positive memories, it’s our responsibility to help children in our lives pad their own backpack with positive nature memories.

Exposing children to nature doesn’t have to be an hours-long trip to the woods. Children are born naturalists. Simply allow them to interact organically with nature to see its beauty as we do. Let them hold the feathers, play in the rain, dig for worms, and collect acorns because someday they’ll pass down their backpack of memories.

Heirloom pumpkins of various colors and textures.

Join us as we explore all of the "weird and wonderful" that nature has to offer this season!

Wild With My Child: Spooky Nature at Long Branch Farm & Trails on Friday, October 13, is a self-paced discovery program where young children and their caregivers can explore nature together through multiple senses and outdoor exploration. Meander the trail and visit naturalists at not-so-spooky Halloween-themed stations.

Preregistration required. Members $5; nonmember adult $11 and nonmember child $7 (includes daily admission). Click here to register!