Oct 30, 2023
Thought Question: How would you describe your relationship with nature? How can exposure to nature and outdoor adventures during childhood positively influence a person's values, interests, and career choices in the future?
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 altered nearly everyone’s life. But for some, it wasn’t always in a bleak way. For instance, Eric and Valerie Castillo made a striking choice for their daughter Journey, who was born amid the worldwide health crisis. They chose to instill in her an appreciation for the innate beauty of her home country.
Vacations amid the past lockdowns were often scrapped. But some became outdoor trips. The Castillos of San Antonio, Texas, traveled to Pikes Peak National Park in Colorado soon after Journey’s birth. It was such a stellar affair that they chose to expose their daughter to more US parks.
That choice soon evolved into a quest for the family: Now, by just 3 years old, Journey has seen all 63 national parks in 33 US states and two US territories.
Eric told ABC News that, even as an infant, his daughter’s eyes would light up upon seeing America’s great outdoors. This includes gazing at the country's mountains, valleys, and prairies. Eric told ABC News that growing up in the park system has really built his daughter's "inner strength." He stated it's formed who she is as a person.
Valerie says hiking through the parks has pushed Journey’s outdoor energy levels to “off the charts.” The parents hope that zest morphs into a desire to serve nature when she is older.
"We want her to be a role model for little girls to aspire to be park rangers, to be outdoors," she said. She stated she hoped Journey would inspire other kids to change the norm and connect with nature, too.
Photo from Unsplash courtesy of Braden Egli.
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