For the month of June our family has been living in the city of Montréal. Quite the change for our country family.
Instead of mountain rivers there's splash parks. Instead of hiking trails, metro stops. Not quite, but you get the idea. It's a totally different scene here.
There's been a definite shift in our routine, since being in the city, in order to satisfy the kids' need for activity and adventure. Most notably, I'm taking the kids on a lot of outings. At home we don't go out a whole lot. We're mostly homebodies. When the kids are antsy we boot them out the door for a couple hours and try to exhaust them with long weekly hikes (the older they get the harder it is to exhaust them).
Back at home, the woods, the river, and the meadow are at our disposal. At our new home there is even a ski hill for this winter. In the city there isn't that same unsupervised outdoors freedom. I know from living in urban Maine, and this month in Montréal, I can't just boot them out the door and say "see ya in a couple hours".
I'm coming to see the importance of organized sports and physical activities for children, especially in urban environments. Our family hasn't participated in any organized sports, 4H or Scouts. There's no need. We do stuff together as a family, there's lot of physical activity in the day and we regularly challenge our kids (physically and mentally) with hiking, backpacking and winter skiing. They learn to work in a team, it's called a family, and they spend lots of time outdoors.
But I'm realizing this isn't the reality for many children. Most children? The freedom to play by mountain rivers, study pond life by just walking out your door and learn to ski in your backyard is a blessing that I don't want to take for granted.
I'm not going to suggest one is better than the other. I think it really depends on your family mission, values and goals. And certainly, many "country" folk enjoy organized sports. Our preference is to choose family activities over individual activities.
I'm so glad we've had this city experience. There are many things we will miss (the pool!) when we return back home in a couple weeks. But I am looking forward again to the day I can say "go play in the woods" and be referring to our backyard.