Everyone loves the idea of a bucket list – you know, those twenty or fifty or one hundred must-do things before you die, some crazier than others. I used to make bucket lists all the time as a kid, but they probably weren’t official bucket lists because of their temporariness; they were perpetually edited every year, and more things got cut and added than actually accomplished. Still, the idea is appealing and I should take some time to create one for myself now.
What’s even cooler, though, is an idea that I got from a link sent to me by my brother-in-law Peter. It’s an article titled, “Bucket list for kids: 50 things to do before they’re 12.” What a great idea! With kids spending less and less time outdoors, distracted by gadgets and perhaps prevented by lazy parents who don’t feel like going out, creating a list of goals that encourages outdoor playtime and fosters a long-term love for being outside is truly important. While children do seem instinctively to love playing outside, that love must be allowed to blossom and continue with parental encouragement, otherwise it will dwindle. Kids need to be given the opportunity for outdoor play for significant chunks of time each day.
I grew up in the forest beside a lake. My sister and I absolutely had to play outside every single day, and if we didn’t go out of our own accord, my parents dressed us forcibly and ushered us quite insistently out the door. I have fabulous memories of coming back in for supper as it grew dark, covered in wet snow, fingers and toes numb, my cheeks stinging from the cold, but delighted with the snow tunnel that we’d managed to build that afternoon. Same in the summer – there were days when I put on my bathing suit in the morning and didn’t take it off till bedtime; we spent hours puttering around on inner tubes and pool noodles, either just the two of us or with the neighbour kids.
I also have some less pleasant memories of crying at the front door, pleading with my mother to let us in. “No way! You’ve only been out there for fifteen minutes. You can come back in an hour,” she’d say. We’d mope around, but inevitably found some kind of adventure to distract us and ended up coming in much later.
I did not actually read the bucket list article because I wanted to make my own, without getting influenced by what’s written there. So here it is, in no particular order. These are 20 things that I wish for my own little ones to experience before they turn 12.
1. Dig for potatoes.
2. Stack firewood.
3. Sleep in a tent.
4. Go on an overnight canoe trip.
5. Have a wild snowball fight.
6. Play hockey on the frozen lake.
7. Skip stones across a lake.
8. Go fishing in a boat.
10. Learn to recognize bird calls.
11. Learn to recognize local trees.
12. Climb to the top of a magnificent cliff.
13. Cook a meal over a campfire.
14. See the Aurora Borealis (northern lights).
15. Sleep under the stars.
16. Build a raft on their own.
17. Build a treehouse.
18. Sleep in that treehouse.
19. Swim across a small lake.
20. Learn how to build a campfire.