Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Share the Summer Love

I grew up and continue to live in a major city. I played outdoors all summer as mentioned in yesterday's post. I even had a forest preserve nearby that I neglected to mention yesterday.

Still, my family and I traveled in order to get a more authentic outdoor experience every year. The mosquitoes in the city just don't bite as aggressively as they do in the North Woods, something I never would have known if not for my annual trips. I also discovered by swimming in a lake that panfish may think that something that isn't food is and attempt to bite at it (for example: the mole on my back) and that Red Wing Blackbirds are fiercely territorial, pecking at larger animals like dogs, eagles and humans should they venture too close to their nests.

This makes it seem as if I didn't enjoy myself. The truth is, for every single uncomfortable and non-air-conditioned experience, I have a thousand fond memories of fishing, swimming, canoeing, turtle hunting and nature watching. As I became older, I discovered the positive and absolutely scientifically valid effect that watching a sunset over a pine tree lined lake has on the flavor of beer. I consider myself lucky enough to have had the time to pursue such research.

Not everyone is as lucky. There are children raised in this country who consider the great outdoors to be their front porch or fenced in backyard. Some kids have not seen any wildlife more exotic than pigeons, stray cats and taxi drivers. While some choose this path in life (I am reminded here of the old City Wolf, Country Wolf Tex Avery cartoon), others have no such choice. Their families simply don't have the resources available to provide them with real outdoor summer fun.

I received an email today about an organization that helps remedy this problem that I had never heard of before. Perhaps it is because I don't live in New York where the not-for-profit was founded and continues to be based out of. While I must admit that while I am opposed to most things New York (the Knicks, Yankees and what they call pizza and hot dogs specifically) this particular organization seemed like something I could set aside my bias for.

It is called the Fresh Air Fund and it seeks to allow thousands of inner city kids in New York City to enjoy up to two weeks in a country or suburban environment. For many kids, it's the only such chance they might get to have the sort of summer memories that I personally remember so fondly. From everything that I've read about the program (after receiving the email I spent most of my day researching), it is a well run and worthwhile organization. It takes volunteers from specific areas of the country and accepts donations. The banner below links to the specific host site from which I received the email and the link at the start of this paragraph will take you to the Fund's official homepage.

I hope that this program is something you all find interesting and worth your time to look into. I also hope that more organizations can do something like this in other parts of the country and intend to start looking into whether or not someone already has. Should I find similar organizations in other areas, I will send word on to all of you, but for now, let's support the organization that went out of its way to contact Transformer Generation Dad for help in spreading the word. They deserve some recognition for making me feel important.

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