My son Ryan spent 6 hours outside this past Sunday night with 20 other teens as they celebrated the birthday of one of their friends. Ryan was told not to bring a present to the party, but to dress warmly instead.
Having never heard of a teen party taking place outdoors, much less on a freezing cold night in January, I didn't know what to expect as I drove Ryan up the long driveway to the farm where the party was taking place. Arriving at the farm, we were met by many other teens dressed warmly and heading out to the barn. Ryan hopped out to join them and as I made my way back down the drive toward home, I wondered if Ryan would end up with frostbite or something after spending so much time outdoors.
At 10pm, I picked Ryan up from the party and soon heard his tales of time spent hiking through the woods in the dark, leaping over streams, star gazing (and even discovering his own constellation), discussions he had which centered around the incredible nature of the universe, and attempts to fill an entire field with snow angels. Wow, I thought! How exciting for Ryan to spend time with his peers, kids aged 14-18, and spend all of it outdoors, reveling in all that nature has to offer.
It made me wonder about birthday parties in general and why we feel we need to entertain kids at Chuck E. Cheese or create special themed parties for them at all. Why not just send them outdoors and let them figure it out. Nature, as Ryan and his friends discovered, is both amazing and entertaining.