Now more than ever people are getting outside as other recreation options have disappeared or become less safe. For some families, they are creating new memories and outdoor traditions. For others, nature is embedded in long-standing family values. The Constantine Family makes it a priority to consistently get outdoors as a family to stay grounded.
“The stressors of life, as well as the daily grind of work and school obligations, often come with a level of pressure that magically disappears when we are out on the trails, splashing in a creek, or camping under the stars. The presence of natural light and the beauty that only nature can provide offers a serenity that does wonders for the mind and soul,” said Jamie Constantine.
Chris and Jamie Constantine reside in Millcreek with their two boys, Carter, 10, and Spencer, 8. Jamie grew up in Buffalo and her husband Chris grew up in Erie. Chris’ Air Force career took him away from the area for many years, then in 2014 the family settled in Erie.
Introduction to the Woods
The Constantine family is no stranger to Asbury Woods. “Chris attended summer camp at Asbury Woods as a kid so when we moved to Erie that was one of the first camp experiences our boys had,” said Jamie Constantine. Since then the family has taken advantage of the community programs and trails at Asbury Woods.
“Asbury Woods is indeed a special outdoor space with something for everyone. There is tremendous value in all Asbury Woods has to offer and our area is truly fortunate to have such a local gem,” said Chris Constantine.
Today’s kids are inundated with technology. “Raising kids in this technological age is not always easy. We have noticed that it is easy to slip into the mundane acts of scrolling and video games. It is a careful balance. We chose to be proactive by making sure our kids are grounded in nature,” said Jamie.
While the family can agree that being in nature together is special, each member has their favorite activity. Carter likes spotting Bald Eagles and collecting Lake Erie beach glass. Spencer loves bike riding on dirt hills and using the Seek App to identify the flora and fauna that is present in any given area.
Chris enjoys teaching his boys new skills such as tapping trees for maple syrup and camping with life-long friends. As for Jamie, she enjoys spending time at a cabin in the woods. She has fond memories of celebrating Thanksgiving 2013 in a cabin in the woods of Arkansas, which was a bucket list item for her.
“Being outside is a priority to us so we make it part of our lifestyle. We find great value in raising our boys to appreciate wildlife and nature and to understand their role within it,” said Jamie.
Some of their favorite outdoor places include Cook Forest State Park, Beartown Rocks, Pymatuning State Park, Akron Falls, Letchworth State Park, and Allegany State Park.
If the schedule does not permit time for a trip away, the family takes advantage of our local recreational resources including Asbury Woods, Wintergreen Gorge, Erie Bluffs, Presque Isle, and Headwaters Park for a quick hike.
While it’s easy to get outside when the weather is nice, it’s equally important to get out in nature each season. The Constantine family bundles up to embrace our region’s cold weather. “Winter in Erie can be long and miserable unless you’re committed to making it awesome. So, strap on some snowshoes and bring the hot cocoa!” said Chris.
In addition to family memories, nature reminds us to be good stewards of our resources. As an educator, Jamie values educational opportunities to learn how to be take care of our environment. Her family and students have learned about native species, Leave No Trace Principles, survival skills, recycling, reducing single use plastics, composting at home, the importance of bees, and many other topics that help them live in harmony with the plants and animals that share our space.
You can make nature a year-round, family affair of exploration and learning by scheduling a weekly hike, attending a program at Asbury Woods, planning a trip away to a new outdoor space this winter, or simply exploring your own backyard.