We say that Sawyer exists, most simply, to encourage kids to be outdoors. The idea is that spending time outdoors and in nature is a healthy, worthwhile experience. As with any claim, it lacks credibility if not backed up by research, experience and solid evidence. By personal experience, being outdoors is awesome. I can attest to many of my life skills, successes and favorite pastimes stemming directly from spending time outside as a kid. Everyone here at Sawyer can claim a similar experience.
We want to be relevant. We want to be credible.
Naturally, a lot of our time is spent encouraging kids to be outdoors. Just as much time, if not more, is spent backing up why being outdoors is worth all of this encouragement. We've found a lot of great resources and supporting evidence around the subject. We've found people that have the same nature-centric nostalgia we refer to. There's a lot on the subject of advocating for kids experiencing time in nature. But what if they don't?
Today, during one of the many internet search-sessions of finding supporting evidence for our cause, I stumbled upon an interesting testament. I found a forum on Free-Range Kids entitled, "I Send My Kids Outside to Play...But They Don't Know How." The topic itself was yet another little tidbit of support for Sawyer.
As I scrolled, there was one comment that really stood out to me. A man named John claiming, "I never went outside to play as a kid." The same man goes on to claim his lifestyle allowed him to, "graduate 1st in my high school class and become the lead design engineer of an electronics company in my early 20s."
He'd grown up in the same generation as me. While I was busy climbing trees, fishing, hiking and occasionally toilet-papering houses late at night, he had no such experiences. He literally says, "I never played tag, rode a bike, climbed a tree, etc."
But, there's more to the story.
John goes on to explain further, "I’m 26 now and never do anything outside of work..." Check out his full post:
"I never went outside to play as a kid. I grew up in the 90s in a large, suburban city. I was on a residential block with few kids where the nearest stores were 2 miles away. I never played tag, rode a bike, climbed a tree, etc. I only had a couple of friends and no parental supervision. But I had a very fast metabolism so I never gained weight. I was also an A+ student in school so I spent most of my time doing homework or figuring out things on the computer. That same pattern allowed me to graduate 1st in my high school class and become the lead design engineer of an electronics company in my early 20s.
That being said, I’m 26 now and never do anything outside of work. At work I design systems, solder circuits, and write computer programs. Lots of hands on stuff. But when I go home I just mess around on the computer. I look in neighbor’s garages and they have camping gear, rowboats, fishing tackle, tennis rackets, basketballs, bikes, croquet sets, dartboards, guitar amps, paint canvases…all kinds out outdoor, game, sport, art, and recreation stuff. I have a ladder, some pool acid, and a toolbox in mine. I don’t know how to fish, camp, play baseball, ride a bike, play a guitar, or paint. I think I missed a lot in life, probably because I never learned to play…"
By a traditional measure of success, in terms of career and stability, John is wildly successful. He's positioned himself in an industry that is projected to grow exponentially. From what little I know about him I know he's got a home and a promising career. It's his last line that so concerning, "I think I missed a lot in life, probably b/c I never learned to play…" As I sit and think of my own garage, similar to John's neighbors', I've got one thing to say:
Dear kids, go outside and play.
John, if you happen to read this, shoot us and email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to get you out on the ski slopes for a day. Also, if you've got kids we'd love to get them some Sawyer product.