A year before our first child was born we broke ground building our dream home. I was hell bent and determined to have the house finished before we moved in. I swore I wouldn’t be that guy with Tyvek siding and plywood floors. I’d have doors on my cupboards. There’d be trim on my windows. Every nail driven was one nail closer to sitting in our screened-in porch enjoying late sunset dinners.
Today, four years after moving in, we have open studded ceilings, closet doors without knobs and there is a gap between the ceramic tile in the kitchen and the red pine flooring in the dining room. Yes, Cheerios, marbles and dead flies collect there.
It would take me only a few hours to finish this job. A trip to Home Depot to buy the trim and a couple hours measuring, cutting, gluing and nailing everything into place. But it’s not going to happen. Today is June 26 and it’s National Canoe Day. We’re going to join paddlers from coast to coast to coast in canoe-related activities in waters of our own choosing. We’re spending our National Canoe Day paddling to a place my son calls Bunny Island.
Last week, June 13 to 21 was Bike Week in the United Kingdom. My daughter Kate just turned three years old and with her chocolate cupcakes came her first two-wheeler. As a former colony with the Queen still on our money, it seems the only right thing to do is ride our bicycles.
National Fishing Week kicks off July 4. As the publisher of Kayak Angler, one of Canoeroots’ sister publications, it would be irresponsible for a guy like me to not take my kids fishing, besides “recreational fishing is a heritage activity that provides an opportunity for people of all ages and from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds to get outdoors and enjoy both the excitement and serenity of fishing.” Sold. Who should argue with the Canadian National Sportfishing Foundation and deprive their kids of true cultural experiences and their heritage.
In the United States they have National Camping Month and to celebrate we’ve lined up two family canoe camping trips down the Petawawa and Dumoine Rivers. At this rate, I can’t see me getting at the Cheerio gutter until early fall or maybe even winter—but then there’s National Jump in the Leaves Month and the entire alpine ski season to look forward to.
The Outdoor Industry Association’s 2008 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report suggests that from 2006 to 2007, there was a 12 per cent decrease of participation in outdoor activities among American children ages 6 to 17 years of age. The same is probably true in Canada.
When it comes to home renovations Bob the Builder says, “Can we fix it? Yes we can!” But first let’s tackle the more important project of reversing a potentially deadly trend and get kids outside. “Can we fix it? Yes we can!” Sometimes all it takes to get a job done is writing it on the calendar.
This article first appeared in the Summer/Fall 2009 issue of Canoeroots Magazine.