Get Lost Somewhere Together in Nature

Military family adventures in the outdoors, rely on each other to explore each new duty station.
Written and photographed by Samantha Peterson

What a sight!

Tearing off boots muddied with fresh earth and tiny crustaceans.

Damp hair windblown into knots, smelling of salt and sea, and spread over our faces.

A ragged crew fresh in from another day-long expedition, piling clumsily into our ride back to civilization.

We’re not what you’d expect, but we’re everything we want to be—a military family living an extraordinary life, exploring every place the Army takes us. Nearly every weekend, our family of five packs into our minivan, off to get lost somewhere together in nature. We are a family of travel-schoolers finding brave new adventures, witnessing unbelievable creatures, and connecting with our world through memories so vibrant, we often relive them in our dreams.  

We believe that you too can live extraordinarily everywhere you go. These small steps will help you embark on wonder-filled journeys of your own.

Every rushed step you take can cause you to miss out on an entire micro world happening just a few paces slower than the larger one surrounding it.  

At first glance, the rocky beach looks empty and still, but observers know better. Explorers look carefully, focusing on their gaze layer by layer.  

Delicately hidden among the pebbles lies flakes of sea glass tumbled until smooth by the salty sea. The morning’s first treasure. Crouching down, sweeping what is within reach with your focused stare, you notice a pocket of glassy orange, color and texture out of place among the jewel tones of rocks—salmon roe washed ashore at high tide. Your lack of movement and sound allow your ears to pick up the subtle whoosh of water from the harbor seal diving down as quickly as it surfaced.  

How to observe

Focus on one small area at a time.

Sit still and let the larger world around you disappear.

Look for bubbles, notice areas of seaweed, and scan the shoreline regularly.

Notice color patterns and look closer at those which look out of place.

Listen to the background noise first, waiting for sudden sounds that signal something new has happened.

The more you know the more you’ll find to do

A forest is a forest until you know its community by name.  

What if I told you that one little trick can guarantee you will never take the same walk through the same path again? When Sean was just three, we walked his brother to school on the same path every single day. While space stayed the same, our little trick kept our eyes and minds buzzing with new discoveries each time.  

Military Child explores the ocean at new duty station

Nature Journaling

Nature journaling is a fun way to learn more about the world around you, becoming an expert along the way too. Each time you journal, you find yourself looking deeper at the world around you, feeling excitement moving from seeing just a plant to calling it by name.

Brantley enjoys journaling what he thinks are the predators, or most ferocious-looking of the day. Sean includes many different species he finds interesting on each journal page. Everyone loves being able to name all the creatures in the tidepool, then moving on to study what they eat or what eats them.

There is no wrong way to do a nature journal. Your journal can be as messy, colorful, abstract, or detailed as you wish. You can choose to journal only certain things or include the study of everything. Pages can zoom in on the details or be a snapshot from your favorite scene of the day.

Your journal is your individual record of memories, just as unique as you are.  


Any notebook will do. Consider the materials you will use, like watercolors, to determine if special paper is needed.

Pencil for sketching

Colors (optional) – Fine tip markers, pastels, watercolors, crayons

Identification guides or using the internet to learn the name and correctly label the parts.

How or when to journal

My family likes to journal once we’ve returned to the car or home from our adventure. My children will each point out things they want me to take a picture of to save the image as a reference for sketching.

You can take your journal with you and sketch things right then and there if you wish! It is always best to remember that when sketching a live animal, it may run off before you’ve had a chance to finish.  

A true explorer respects their surroundings

Think about the most beautiful and interesting place you have seen on TV, in a book, or in real life. These places, some ancient, have remained wildly exquisite for you to see because people before you respected it enough to protect it.  

There is something magical that happens when we see with our eyes the majestic wonder of the earth. Once you see it, hear it, and feel it move you deep down, you become charged with protecting it for generations to come.  

True explorers respect their surroundings by learning how to keep it safe.

Things to know

Stay on marked trails to keep soil, plants, habitats intact.

Know not just what is safe to touch, but what harm may come to the object you are touching.

Never take creatures out of their habitat. You would not want anyone to take you from yours.

Take out everything you take in, trash especially, and help tidy up trash or debris you may find along the way too.

Adventure has grown from what we like to do, to who we are as a family. By making the study of nature an important part of who they are, my three boys have come to love moving from place to place.

We know that our backyards may change, but together we can rely on each other to discover the world side by side.

Read the full article "Get Lost Somewhere Together in Nature" written and photographed by Samantha Peterson, in Volume I of Legacy Kids Magazine.

Discover how to adventure where the military sends you, article featured in Legacy Kids Vol I


Legacy Kids Magazine is an annual publication for military children of all ages. Each volume is full of inspiring stories, artwork, and hands-on activities centered around resilience and bravery. This lovingly-crafted publication enables military kids to use their own creative voices to empower, enlighten, and uncover the truths about growing up in an unconventional lifestyle. 

After spending time with Volume I, you and your child will walk away feeling inspired and empowered to embrace this lifestyle from a new, positive perspective.

Secure your copy of Legacy Kids Magazine Vol I

How do you embrace adventure or create opportunities to live extraordinarily anywhere the military takes you? 



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