My mother has many photos (like this one) of my sister and me swimming hand in hand, helping each other over rocks and playing in Marble Creek.(Dana Stoner file photo)
My favorite portion of the "Outdoor Challenge" is happening now through Sunday on the KFVS-12 contest page. This series of challenges from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is designed to encourage southeast Missourians to reap the many benefits of spending time outdoors. This week's challenge is to play in a creek, an activity that took up a great portion of my childhood.
I have many memories of creek exploration, mostly from when my family lived west of Fredericktown. There was a very small creek that ran through our farm that I would stomp around in on a regular basis. The big fun, however, was when all the cousins would convene at our great-grandparent's home and play in their creek near Cherokee Pass.
Our great-grandparent's creek was full of crawdads and other creatures we could catch, examine and return back to the water. I use the term "examine" loosely, as most of the time this activity involved someone chasing someone else with the creature in hand, or getting a crawdad to pinch an unsuspecting victim. This sounds mischievous, but the freedom to be wild kids in the creek was what kept us coming back. The squeals that emitted from those chases were only partly from the fear of the pinch and mostly from the pure exhilaration of having fun in nature.
Marble Creek, in Madison County, was another beloved creek playing destination for us. My mother has many photos of my sister and me swimming hand in hand, helping each other over rocks and playing in Marble Creek. This was the destination when we really wanted to swim, as Marble Creek had plenty of deeper pools that were just right to swim in.
These memories have now transformed into traditions as I teach my son to play in creeks. I use the word "teach" because that's what we do as parents. We lead by example and take our children outdoors with us to play and connect with our natural world. If I'm afraid to touch a bug, my son will be afraid, too. If I splash and play in the creek, he follows me right in.
This week's challenge to play in a creek is the perfect opportunity to lead your family into a lifetime of learning and fun memory-making. To find a creek to play in, go to mdc.mo.gov to find a conservation area near you. Each area webpage lists onsite waterways under the area's amenities. While you're there, preserve the memory with a few photos and then submit one to the KFVS-12 Outdoor Challenge contest page.
For more information on the challenge, go to www.mdc.mo.gov/node/18037.