There’s an awful lot of discussion in our house lately about “getting.” What someone got for his birthday, what he might get for Christmas, what he wants to get from his grandparents. Getting, gonna get, got. At 10, AK Kid’s lists are also becoming more sophisticated, and more specific, causing AK Dad and I to rethink how our family intends to do the annual distribution of “getting.” This has, of course, also necessitated a more serious discussion about finances and the concept of family stewardship. What does it mean to the adults in this household, and what, if anything, could it possibly mean to a ‘tween boy who still considers, and finally pens, a letter to Santa Claus?
Stewardship is a value. Stewardship is about protecting resources; emotional, financial, physical, or environmental. Sounds pretty great. But translating an ethical concept to kids can often be difficult, so AK Dad and I have come up with a few ways to encourage thoughtful stewardship in a way that our son can touch. Here are a few ideas:
Taking care of our bodies: Some kids don’t have warm coats in Alaska, and some of those kids live right in our neighborhood. We’ll be donating warm clothing; socks, mittens, and hats this year, and delivering them personally to the bin at Alaska Regional Hospital, a collection site for a school just down the street. Could you do the same where you live? Take your child shopping, wrap the present, and deliver it to an agency supporting kids?
Young bodies also require fuel to enjoy the outdoors, do homework, and manage a day in school or childcare. Nearly every city offers a food bank or pantry, but have you ever perused the shelves of these facilities? Nutritionally, many items lack the punch kids need for a healthy diet and active lifestyle. The Food Bank of Alaska welcomes donations of fresh or frozen produce, something AK Kid tends to take for granted when I’m practically shoving hit down his little neck during mealtimes. Explain nutrition = energy, and energy = more time to play outdoors. Go to the grocery, buy a bag of carrots and celery and oranges or apples, and watch eyes light up at the pantry when you show up. Stewardship.
Taking care of our land: Alaska is unique in the amount of real estate held within its boundaries. Much of this land is public, be it through the management of federal, state, or local authorities. Whoever manages it, it’s up to us to respect it through the value of stewardship. We like to support the efforts of organizations like the Anchorage Park Foundation and Friends of Campbell Creek Science Center, locally. Both offer opportunities to give back to the land upon which we place our boots, bike tires, and skis throughout the year. Where can you give in your part of the world? Try the American Hiking Society, or National Parks Conservation Association. Both have regional offices that encourage stewardship participation at whatever level your family is comfortable. Connect the dots to kids by engaging in a trail work party, or by hiking a trail and picking up trash, then paying a visit to the local office or website and making a small donation.
We’re still placing presents under the tree, we’re still cranking out that letter to Santa, but in the process, we’re also hoping to raise a kid who cares.
Happy holidays. I hope your hearts are full of stewardship, this year.
Looking for more options for gifting in 2014? My cohorts in an Outdoor Family Blogger community have created a GIANT link-up of gift guides from their own blogs. From babies to parents, this is the ultimate list for busy folks who haven’t even begun to think about holiday shopping, yet. Here they are: