When you think back on the winter holidays growing up, were there traditions that involved going outside? I’ve heard when families gathered in the country, they would set up targets for “plinking” with a 22 or BB gun. Sometimes the kids would build snow forts and have a “war.” Perhaps, for city kids like me, it was critical to build a snowman who would greet the family when they arrived or stand guard as everyone bundling up and headed out to “walk off” dinner. Regardless of the activity, it was done as a family – young and old.

I’m concerned that, for whatever reason, there are traditions involving the outdoors that have been lost and replaced with passive forms of entertainment. What does the family, specifically the young people, spend their time during the family gatherings today? Do they go outdoors or do they sit around the TV to watch a movie, curl up on the couch with a video game or find comfort in their own private activity on their mobile device.

Regardless of what they do, the consequence of staying indoors is a less active lifestyle.

According to a WebMD article, “Years ago, it was rare to hear about a child with type 2 diabetes. Doctors used to think kids only got type 1. It was even called juvenile diabetes for a long time. Not anymore. Now, according to the CDC, more than 208,000 people younger than 20 have this disease. That number includes both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The single biggest cause of type 2 diabetes in children is extra weight.”

One of the contributing factors to weight gain is the lack of physical activity. If our family traditions encourage a reluctance to go outside, especially if it’s too cold to go without a coat, aren’t we doing our kids a great disservice?

In the coming months, the leadership of MHHF will focus on reaching more youngsters and parents to promote the joy and benefits of learning about the outdoors through our hunter education clinics.

We greatly appreciate your support in this effort.

Please have a safe, joyful and active holiday!