Why do people describe themselves as “the outdoor type”? Because they were brought up to be? Because its cool? Or is it because at some point, when they were young and impressionable somebody took them under their wing and into the great outdoors? I could be wrong but you don’t hear about that many adults who are self confessed “indoor types” one day and climbing Everest the next. It all starts much earlier….
As a little tacker I was lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the world with lots of space to run around and let my imagination run wild, thanks to the life choices my parents made.
Godolphin Hill...where many happy hours were spent
I also had some rather good company in my older and younger brothers and sisters. My parents set a good example; they gave us a loose rein when it was safe (which was most of the time) and banned TV when it was sunny, a habit (or a rule?!) that they’ve passed onto me as a parent. They kicked us into the outdoors. I also got taken to some fabulous places by some generous adults. Having no close grandparents we adopted a neighbour, called Bob, who used to let us build stuff in his workshop and who took me on my first proper overnight hike with his granddaughter. We did one particularly memorable hike when I was about eight years old to Nanjizal, a beach at the bottom of a rugged Cornish cliff that you can’t get to unless you walk 8km (also not labelled on google maps yet ); this struck me as rather special at the time and is a benchmark I use to this day. Then came sailing. My best friend Polly took me out in her Mirror dinghy and taught me how to sail.
Capsized off a turning mark in Carrick Roads, spinnaker pole overboard, Jib Halyard stuffed, cacthing a tow home! Falmouth Week 1991?
Her parents then let us loose on their 25 footer. And so began a long line of mentors and benefactors who taught me, inspired me and gave me the opportunities and the resources to lead an outdoor life. This ultimately led to sailing adventures far away from home…and ten years later I’m still at sea so to speak…sorry mum…
Reg, playing in Temptation Creek, oh..sometime back in the 70's
So to answer this question “why do people call themselves the outdoor type”? I think there are a few ingredients that shape the outdoor type, young and old:
- The right environment. You don’t have to move to the wilds of Africa, just regular visits to a place where trees outnumber people or the river runs a bit wilder than normal
- The right catalyst: Great outdoor mentors. Many people I know who are self described “OTD’s” began their journey when someone showed them the way.
- The right company: solitude is lovely but a real love of nature comes from sharing the love with someone else. For kids this is often just being allowed to play together outdoors, unsupervised.
- The right freedom and opportunity: If you’re a parent, find a way to let your kids loose, if you’re an adult give yourself permission and unplug from the matrix.
This month is Get Outdoors month. If you and your family are already self confessed outdoor types and are planning adventures for the Easter holidays, why not invite a little friend along and show them the great outdoors? Are you an outdoor type? Who showed you the way?