My wife and I are cheap babysitters, so it’s not surprising that we frequently have grandchildren at our house while their parents are tending to other business. We have a supply of toys for the children, and they are young enough to still enjoy playing in our small backyard; however, there is no substitute for a good outing.
Our grandchildren will almost always lobby for a hike on the trail surrounding our subdivision that ends at Teloh Calapooia Park about a mile away. The trail includes mud holes, water features, and a variety of sticks, stones, and creatures that children find amusing. The park at the end of the trail offers great slides, swings, and other things to climb, in addition to other kids. We must have seen at least 20 other children on our most recent visit.
We are fortunate to live within walking distance of two neighborhood parks that are attractive to our grandchildren. Sometimes disputes arise over which is the preferred destination, but the trail usually wins the day. I think my wife prefers Doug Killin Park because there is less mud. Our Valentine’s Day trip to Teloh Calapooia required hauling four children upstairs and giving them lengthy baths before they could be unleashed on the rest of the house.
I hadn’t given much thought to the importance of city parks to my family and me until recently. I have always believed in having a good park system, but I didn’t realize its value to me personally. We have taken our children and grandchildren to countless city parks over the years to play in organized sporting events, watch concerts, view fireworks, climb on play structures, fish, attend fairs, picnic, attend family reunions, hike, swim, or just sit in a shady spot on a hot day.
Oregon is such a beautiful state, and we have so many great natural areas that city parks may seem unnecessary to some. I think the great value of city parks is their proximity to where we live. I love Silver Creek Falls State Park and Crater Lake National Park, but I don’t necessarily like driving a car full of children to either place on a regular basis. Walking down the street or a nearby trail and running into people we know is a much different experience, requiring less energy of all kinds.
I would like to express my thanks to all the people who make our parks desirable places to take our children. Parks are a great community service that help us with the challenges of raising happy children who will grow up to be healthy, productive people.