Brad Ross: Explore local nature with Mom


Mother’s Day is this Sunday and, if you are like me, you haven’t gotten anything yet, right? If you didn’t do anything last week for Earth Day, you can celebrate both events by doing something for the environment with your mom.

If your mom is like mine, when you ask what you can give her, she will say, “I don’t want anything, just to spend time with my kids and grandkids.” Why not take her up on it and invite her outside on a hike, for a canoe paddle, a bike ride, to visit public gardens, plant a tree or some flowers, or any number of outdoor activities? You don’t have to go far either. Delaware County is truly blessed with some outstanding places to explore our wonderful natural resources.

Moms, this would be an opportunity to pull one over on the kids. By letting them take you outdoors to explore, you are actually doing something that’s good for them! According to the National Wildlife Federation’s website: “The nature of childhood has changed. There’s not much nature in it. American childhood has moved indoors during the last two decades, taking a mental and physical toll on today’s kids. The negative impact of decreased time outdoors includes a doubling of the childhood obesity rate — accompanied by an incremental hundred billion dollar cost to our health care system — as well as declining creativity, concentration and social skills.”

Here are some interesting facts cited on NWF’s website (

• Children are spending half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago.

• Today, kids 8-18 years old devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media in a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).

• In a typical week, only 6 percent of children ages 9-13 play outside on their own.

• Children who play outside are more physically active, more creative in their play, less aggressive and show better concentration.

• Sixty minutes of daily unstructured free play is essential to children’s physical and mental health.

• The most direct route to caring for the environment as an adult is participating in “wild nature activities” before the age of 11.

If you want to enjoy some of our local wilderness-type settings, Preservation Parks of Delaware County has some spectacular parks and hiking trails that are close, easy to access and free. They also have great programs all year long that are geared for a variety of ages. We also have nice hiking trails at Delaware and Alum Creek state parks that are near the water’s edge and offer great opportunities for bird watching.

To get really close to the natural beauty of Delaware County, I recommend canoeing or kayaking. Some of our county’s awe-inspiring geologic formations can be admired by canoe or kayak at either of the state parks. Paddling down the Scioto River is another option that provides peace, serenity, beauty and great excitement as you float past woodlands and farm fields. Sounds so good, maybe I’ll take my 82-year old mom! Maybe I can con her into carrying the canoe to the put-in!

If you feel really adventuresome, the Olentangy Indian Caverns are a very unique geologic feature of the county that kids of all ages can enjoy. According the website, the caverns are a series of natural underground rooms and passages formed millions of years ago by an underground river that cut through solid limestone rock. My mom took me there the first time more than 50 years ago and I still remember the thrill of it today. The caverns are located on Home Road just south of Delaware. They do charge a fee for tours and offer a guided tour season and self-guided tour season.

Why not get out this weekend and give Mom a memorable Mother’s Day gift that she will love — time with her children and Mother Nature? It can’t get any better!

For more information about how we can help you help the land, contact the Delaware SWCD at 740-368-1921. Happy Mother’s Day, moms everywhere!

Brad Ross

Contributing columnist

Brad Ross is communications specialist at the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be reached at [email protected].

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