Family Walks: Instilling Forestland Values for Future Generations

Posted: March 19, 2014

When our children were growing up, we found ways to engage them on the land...

By Alfred J. Kline, Pennsylvania Forest Landowner

I am the manager of the Kline family woodlot outside of Hastings, PA. I read with interest in the Winter 2014 edition of Forest Leaves the article by Susan Benedict, titled Kids in the Woods. When our kids were growing up, we did something similar, but with a slightly different twist.

We organize the Kline family walk each year in the fall, usually Columbus Day weekend. We start out by having the whole family (children, grandchildren, significant others) attend a Sunday morning church service to give thanks for the health, honor, and privilege of being able to care for God’s creation for another day. After the church service, we go to the woodlot for a day of good food and to prepare for the annual family walk. The tradition started over thirty years ago with just me, my wife, and four kids. Through the years it has grown to include our children’s spouses, thirteen grandchildren, and now the grandchildren’s boyfriends/girlfriends and husbands/wives.

What the walk does is impress upon them the value of hard work to keep the woodlot going. The walk also strengthens relationships with each of the family members and any additional family and friends who join us each year.

My wife and I feel that nurturing family relationships is as much a part of life as managing the woodlot. We hope to instill in the future generation the value of the property and to care for and keep the woodlot going through future years. Due to age and health problems, my wife and I can no longer participate in the actual walk, but we can keep the fire going until the younger ones come back from the walk to enjoy good food, games, and companionship.

I am sure if your family sets aside a day for a walk, it can be a rewarding experience as it is for me and my wife. Try it and you’ll see the feedback and joy you get by giving good memories. As they go off to college and go down the road of life, it has been an experience they will not forget. They are enthusiastic about coming back each year. These experiences with family, and nature, and enjoyment of our woodlot will be ones they will not lose in their lifetime.