My favorite place in the world is a little cabin in the northwoods of Wisconsin. The Cottage, as it is affectionately known, has been in my family for 100 years. The magic that happens there during summers there is unique. Loons in their black and white finery call and dive in the water of the clear lake. Bald eagles soar majestically in the skies and build huge nests in the trees. Dragonfly swarms consume the relentless mosquitos. Squirrels and chipmunks pretend that they own the place -- and much of the year they do -- chattering at me from inside and outside the Cottage.
Staying at the Cottage is not for the faint of heart -- cobwebs abound, there is no central heat or air conditioning and there is iron in the water that turns my hair orange. And yet I’m eternally grateful for the love and magic that happens there.
My family grew up driving every other summer to the northwoods until we begged our parents to take the 2-day each way road trip every year. It is a long way from Atlanta. I developed a love of exploring and experiencing the outdoors at the Cottage -- learning to canoe from my dad as a kid, water ski from my Aunt when I was a tween and teaching myself to sail as a teenager. The freedom to try new things, explore and take risks was boundless. The Cottage has also helped our family weather grief -- we scattered my father’s ashes in the lake when I was 15 and my uncle’s just a few short years ago. The bond and beauty of the northwoods keeps my family close through the good times and the challenges.
In my family, being outdoors is a family affair. These roots were planted at such a young age that my siblings and I still adventure, explore and hike together.
These outdoor experiences influenced me to start Tyke Hike to cultivate similar outdoor experiences for children and families. At Tyke Hike, I'm helping parents and educators plant the seeds for a lifetime of connection outdoors. Because while I had access to the northwoods of Wisconsin, no matter where a child lives and their family circumstances, healthy time outdoors is a right and can provide a sound foundation for years to come.