We have access to wild thick woods right behind our house.
Even though we are in the suburbs of DC we frequently witness fox, deer, owls, and snakes right outside our windows.
As if that wasn't cool enough for a house full of boys, a perfect stream runs right down the middle of the woods.
During the winter it's too cold to get in, but during the summer it's overrun with thorns and poison ivy. This leaves a few prize days to slip into rain boots and hike out for adventures.
The boys bring satchels, swords, bow and arrows, and toy pistols because you never know when you might come across something to hunt for dinner.
I let the boys take turns leading the way across stream beds, over boulders and stepping stones, under fallen trees, and around obstacles.
It's not about getting far, it's about making the adventure rich, so we move slow allowing plenty of time for frog catching, rock collecting, animal tracking, and crawdad chasing.
Boots fill with mud, faces smudge with evidence of curiosity, and I play a guessing game with wondering what Wils may have tried to taste test.
This is the first year Wils is big enough to keep up with his big brothers step for step. He prefers to just walk down the middle of the stream the entire way.
Jefferson is my ever ready protector keeping a watchful eye out for unseen dangers and making sure his Momma and sister are taken care of. He managed to do it all with a gigantic cane pole he found and lugged all the way back home.
Harrison, my valiant warrior, hiked the whole way, tracking animal prints, bow ready for a quick strike since he was determined to bring home dinner.
He narrowly missed a squirrel and I narrowly missed having to youtube a video on how to skin, clean, and cook it!
Mae Baby rode happily in the backpack carrier content with her ariel view of the muddy chaos below. We made it back with several pounds of rocks, bamboo canes, boots full of dirty water, and thank goodness, nothing for us to skin for dinner ;)