I have lived in Yuma, lets just say for a while… (over 20 years) I have yet to explore the riding areas around me. I just get caught up on daily life work, eat, sleep routine. I have to admit running a off-road rental company can be a off-road fun time killer.
I always get asked WHAT IS THERE TO DO IN YUMA? I know there are places to ride but, to personally say I have done it all, I would be lying if I said I had especially when it came to the outdoor life. I didn’t really began to explore Yuma until I was in my late 20s. My father worked long hours during the week and the weekends were usually filled with cookouts, parties and just hanging out on Sundays and work. My parents weren’t really the outdoor type. The most exposure other than work was to go down to Mexico to the beach.
I always thought that there was nothing to do here, mainly because I was believing the lies that were spread by people who don’t know anything. That is not only the biggest misconception but a huge farce. Some of the most beautiful outdoor scenes in the Yuma County area are so warmly beautiful you must experience it yourself.
As a parent, I began to realize the important of having a Yuma outdoor life, not just to keep myself active but, to encourage my kids to get out and explore. Our youngest son is 3 years old. He can pick up an iPad and create a pizza (through an app), or play several types of brain games, even find some of his favorite Youtube channels! Technology makes it so easy to keep in contact with other people with out having actual face time with them. Although the winters are extremely busy for us, I must make time to get my children out and exploring. Give my kids exposure to outdoor life, and teach them to respect the earth and never ever take anything from it’s natural habitat.
This became more important as they got older, especially since we had a little incident with one of my friend’s niece. We went out with a Jesse Watson a Yuma Landscape and Astro photographer to hike by Castle Dome located in the Kofa National Wildlife Reserve. We hiked up a few hills then came back down and decided to try and find a few geocaches. It began to get dark and Jesse the photographer asked us to stay. He said “Just stay for a bit, the view of the stars is amazing”. With absolutely no lights, or flash lights, other than the lights of the camera, the sun began to set. As the beautiful sunset covered the desert with it’s golden glow, everything that once seemed still was now taking another form at night.
The desert is alive, every little living thing out in the Yuma Desert is spectacular especially in these weather conditions. The night shadows began to creep up as the sun went down, a complete darkness covered the desert. The only gleaming lights were from in town, off in the distance, miles and miles away were a string of twinkling lights. With no light source, we began to joke about the cactus turning into coyotes. We laughed about us joking that it was coyotes. In the midst of the laughter I heard a violent cry. It shaked me enough to check out why the girl or girls were crying. We were all sitting in the back of the truck bed trying to take a photo of the Milky Way. I leaned over to see who was crying and it was my friend’s niece.
“What is wrong sweetie?” I asked she responded in complete fear and said “I am scared I don’t want the coyotes to eat me.” My daughters looked at each other in confusion. I explained to her that we were on top of the truck bed and they would have to jump on top but before that would even happen we would make sure she was safe. She began to calm down and I explained to her why we said the teddybear cactus was looking more and more like a coyote. I took my iPhone flashlight and walked over to a cactus to show her she had nothing to fear. As the night progressed the stars began to glisten, it was almost like someone turned on the lights. Hundreds of stars were shining so brightly. It was such a beautiful sight, breath taking to see the least.
After we were done taking all the photos I began to talk to my friend’s niece so I could better understand her and her fears to insure she didn’t feel unsafe, I wanted her to feel complete safe and secure. She began to tell me she had never been hiking, never went camping, never went and did any outdoor activities. I felt bad for her. This experience was overwhelming for her precious little self. As I was talking with her I saw my girls just laughing and playing. The didn’t seem bothered by the darkness, our mentioning of coyotes didn’t bother them at all.
It was this event that I began to understand the importance of having a child exposed to an outdoor life. Away from the technology, away from the city lights. More than just exposure to the Yuma Outdoor life my children need and crave that one on one time. According to a study by http://childfrenandnature.org children greatly benefit from having exposure to an outdoor lifestyle.
Here are a few benefits of exposing your children to a Yuma outdoor life:
Contact with nature provides health benefits.
Children’s play in natural setting help develop a sense of self and independence.
Nature is important to children’s development in every major way — intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically.
Unstructured free play in the out-of-doors brings a host of benefits to children —from being smarter to more cooperative to healthier overall
Children with ADHD concentrate better after walking in a park.
Natural settings provide psychological benefits.
Nature activities soothe ADD symptoms.
Nearby nature reduces stress in children.
Nearby nature boosts children’s cognitive functioning.
Older children who spend more time outside tend to be more physically active and are less likely to be overweight.
Public open space features may influence children’s physical activity.
Spending time outdoors helps prevent myopia in 12-year-olds.
Children benefit from appropriate risk-taking during outdoor play.
And the list goes on and on!
So spend more time with your children outdoor they will greatly benefit from it. For more information on the study visit http://www.childrenandnature.org/downloads/C&NNHealthBenefits.pdf
Here is another image from our hike up the hills.