UOC Blog: The Outdoor Life

It all started with a trip to the Planetarium

digital artwork containing planets, stars, rocket ship, and satellite, other space items

We hadn’t seen the grass in our yard in months and there was still no green in sight. Snow was piled everywhere and as much as we tried to make the most of it, we needed a break. So we loaded up the kids and headed to the planetarium where they just happened to be showing “Into America’s Wild,” on the IMAX that day. We spent 45 minutes exploring America’s Wild Spaces with Morgan Freeman as our tour guide. On our way out of the theater my husband looked over at me and said, “that is what we need to do.”

Eight years earlier, we moved to Summit County and couldn’t believe our luck. We had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming. The Uinta’s were no longer a distant relative that we saw a couple times a year. Now they were our next door neighbors and we could go over to play any time we wanted. So we did (and still do). Hiking, camping, fly fishing, snow shoeing, Swiss bobbing, sledding, picnics, nature walks, mountain biking, ATV rides, scenic drives with the windows down—you name it, if we could figure out a way to sneak up for a couple hours then we were all over it with our three kids in tow.

I’d like to say that investing all that time in the mountains gave us instant results. That our kids couldn’t get enough mountain time and are always ready to go at a moment’s notice. I’d LIKE to say that. But the truth is, many times we are practically dragging them out the door after a LOT of coaxing and reminders to get ready. All while they throw every bargaining chip they have at us. And once we actually make it out there, we are limited by the age/abilities of our kids. Especially when they were younger, the physical and emotional effort to get out the door usually outweighed our mountain time by far.

So why go?

Even on the worst days (like the time we forgot my youngest’s coat for a snowshoeing trip and spent all of 15 min near the trailhead with him wrapped up in a car blanket, before we had to call it quits and head home), we’ve noticed that the way we feel when we are out and the changes we see in our kids. It makes every effort to spend even a few minutes in Alpine therapy so worth it. Our kids get better and better at connecting with nature completely unprompted, everyone’s moods improve, and any headaches, minor aches/pains, or concerns tend to melt away.

That’s why after an afternoon at the planetarium watching a documentary all about the power of nature and highlighting some of the organizations that are working to connect kids with the outdoors, the spark was kindled. We knew from experience with our own kids the magic that can be unlocked just by getting them out in the mountains and with the Uinta’s knocking on our doorstep, it felt like a no-brainer.

It’s funny how things come to you. I’ve spent most of my adult career working with kids. The last couple years of college I worked as a Camp Specialist for Utah State’s Aggie Adventure Camp Program. I planned curriculum and carried out science based camps for the University’s school-year and summer programs. I left USU with a degree in Secondary Education and taught a slew of CTE elective subjects giving high school students hands on learning experiences in lab based classes. After six years, I traded my public classroom for the toughest assignment yet—homeschooling my own children and running a commercial photography company that specializes in trail races. I’ve got two decades under my belt, exploring the outdoors and educating kids. Uinta Outdoor Company should have been the natural result of blending my past experiences and interests, but it took a well-timed documentary and a perceptive husband to plant the idea. It was only after it started growing that I realized that I not only had the passion for the project but also the skills on the resume to make it a reality.

We’ve poured our whole heart into building Uinta Outdoor Company as a place where you can connect with nature. A place you can have a community of people that are passionate about wild spaces and passing that along to the next generation. We are so excited to see where this next adventure takes us.

By Michelle Liegert

It all started with a trip to the Planetarium