A young Crystal Murray stands at the water's edge in a bathing suit.

Flex the natural athlete in you

Fuel your kids with the wonders of the great outdoors

By Crystal Murray

It wasn’t the proudest moment of my elementary school track and field day.

I was tucked in under the bleachers peeling away curls of blue paint from the bottom of the seats above my head. I could hear my name being called for the event. Three times the speaker amplified my name as my classmates waited at the starting line of the 200-metre dash. 

Finally, the race started. I peeked out under the bleachers watching a flutter of prepubescent legs scramble to the finish, relieved that I had escaped the humiliation of possibly coming last but ashamed that I hid myself away.

The memory of that Grade 5 field day came flooding back as I read Fawn Logan Young’s column for this issue.

When I was a kid, self-esteem was never available to me in any amount of abundance—especially when it came to organized sports. 

It’s not that I wasn’t an active kid. I loved being outdoors and although I ran through the fields around our home, drove my bike all over town and played in the nearby creeks and ponds catching minnows and frogs, I never felt that I was or could be athletic. I was a young adult before I let go of that mindset and realized that my physical strength, my mental wellness, and in many cases, my purpose, came from my connection to nature. 

Athleticism has nothing to do with wearing a team jersey or winning medals, it’s how you participate in the game of life.

Watching my own kids grow up I wonder if I would have had that same desire to connect with the nature that was outside my back door if I had grown up with an Xbox and Netflix. 

I’ve raised my family in rural Nova Scotia. There has never been a shortage of technology or access to online entertainment, although I wish I had been more diligent at limiting that exposure. But living minutes from the beach in one direction and forest trails in the other, it wasn’t hard to get the kids outside. We always carved out time for a few summer camping trips to completely unplug and reconnect to something more meaningful: time as a family.

It’s been a hard few weeks in our province, and especially in Halifax, as COVID-19 cases hit all-time highs. We were so close to making it through an entire school year without an interruption from the pandemic. I hope that you, your children and their teachers are all proud of the way everyone embraced the many changes to school life this past year. Don’t discount your hard work. 

Unfortunately, we are wrapping up the school year from home. It’s a tough one to swallow after all the effort to keep our children in the classroom, participating in their activities and engaging with their friends. The changes in our province have marshalled us all to the start of a new race. But we have been training and we know what we need to do to get to the finish line. We don’t have to be athletes; we just have to play by the rules. Then we all win.

Stay safe, enjoy your summer, and see you in September!

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