Nearly every summer when I was growing up, my family and I traveled to a small town in Colorado, just across the geological border where Rockies begin to emerge. We considered this two-week trip our recovery/getaway from the intense, Texas summers. It was during those annual two weeks when I rode my first horse, learned how to fish, found a love for climbng mountains, saw stars like I’d never seen before, and explored the woods, waiting silently to catch a glimpse of a wild animal that wasn’t a squirrel. It was during this time that my respect for serene places grew enormously.
In the Colorado town, my parents didn’t have to propose ideas for going outside. We were constantly outside – my parents, sisters, and I – always going hiking or biking or on some adventure. Our cabin had awful phone service and no TV, but we never seemed to notice. Once we reached a certain age, my sisters and I were allowed to explore surrounding mountains by ourselves (walkie-talkies included). This liberating change allowed for even more time spent outdoors, and there was no delay in fully embracing the opportunity. I remained outside for hours every day, running around in the woods and letting my imagination take over. I’m sure the amount of dirt I carried into the cabin at the end of each day could have supported a small garden. On days when it rained, escaping to our tepee of downed logs was the first course of action. Inhaling the fresh scent of rain was the next. That sense of freedom that the outdoors provides has remained with me ever since.
It was always a sad occasion, making the drive back home. I couldn’t comprehend the emotion I felt when we got out of the car along the way to stretch, feeling the hot wind and watching trash blowing around. But I understand it now: disappointment. As a child, I wanted every place to be just as beautiful and soothing and pristine as my home-away-from home in Colorado, and I could not comprehend why people didn’t feel the same way. The outdoors provided for me an outlet for exploration, peace of mind, and much more. Returning the favor to take a stand for the protection of the outdoors is a logical move in my mind. I am thrilled to be working within the Sierra Club with a program whose mission it is to get people outside.
At home, it was easier to go outside after these trips because I knew of all the fun things that could happen in the great outdoors. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to go to Colorado, visit national parks, or go on camping trips during the year, perhaps I wouldn’t be as passionate about the outdoors as I am now.
I am very grateful for the fact that I was born into a family who happened to love being outdoors, and have them to thank for the many chances to travel and experience it. When I catch up with my parents about my time in D.C., they never hesitate to remind me that they deserve credit for my interest in the green world. And I don’t hesitate to give it to them.
---by Sally McGuire, Mission Outdoors Intern