#GOWILDforEveryKid at the Centennial Mountains Wilderness Study Area in Montana!

The 27,000+ acre Centennial Mountains Wilderness Study Area - a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands - contains some of the most wild and biologically important lands in southwest Montana. The area provides refuge for  rare and endangered species that require wild, undeveloped landscapes for survival.

The majority of the Continental Divide Trail managed by the BLM is located within the Centennial Mountains WSA. Visitors can enjoy backcountry hiking, horseback riding, fishing and much more.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

During Wilderness Month 2015, our #GOWILDforEveryKid posts  will feature wilderness areas where kids can enjoy public lands! 4th Graders and their families can enjoy those lands for free through www.everykidinapark.gov.    

Families of Steven Universe
  • Connie:mother and father
  • Peedee and Ronaldo:single dad
  • Jenny and Kiki:father and grandmother
  • Buck Dewey:single dad
  • Sour Cream:Mother, Step-Dad, and little half-brother. Estranged biological father.
  • Sadie:Working mom, no mention of father
  • Steven:dad and three gem-moms (also his own mom?)
  • Lars:snake people???

Our generation is more diverse, more educated, and more open-minded than the generation before, and our homes reflect that viewpoint. While many of us might not mate for life or have kids at 22, we’re still having families. They just look a little different than they did before. The modern family of the future may not even be entirely human.


Celebrate Wilderness Month 2015 with Us & GO WILD for Every Kid!

On this day in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act, making the United States the first country in the world to define and designate wilderness areas through law. Today, through the National Conservation Lands, the BLM manages 223 congressionally designated wilderness areas and 517 wilderness study areas as a part of the Bureau’s mission under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

The nearly 8.8 million acres of wilderness and 12.6 million acres of wilderness study areas for which BLM is responsible represent extraordinarily diverse landscapes - from deserts to offshore rocks to alpine tundra - in 11 western states plus Alaska. Cherished for their untrammeled landscapes and preservation of ecological and scenic values, BLM’s wilderness also provides excellent places to enjoy solitude and primitive recreation.

To celebrate the Wilderness Act and Wilderness Month 2015, we’ll feature BLM-managed wilderness areas and wilderness study areas here - one stunning location per day.  As a bonus, we’ll share the unique scientific, historical, and cultural value of these areas as 4th graders and their families explore the outdoors - a living classroom - through the new everykidinapark.gov initiative!

My childhood home in suburban Chicago always smelled like whatever we were cooking. Visiting us meant cloaking yourself in the scent of haam daan ju yoke beng, a dish of steamed pork and salted egg, or the perfume of mapodoufu, tofu and minced pork with a spicy chili and fermented black bean sauce.

I didn’t mind the smells growing up because I wasn’t aware of them. That is, until a high school friend declared my house smelled of “Chinese grossness.”

The comment clung to me like the smell in my home. My embarrassment hit a peak when my father installed a 5-foot-long fish tank in our family room so he could steam fish at home — extra fresh. I tried to pretend the blue fish swimming around in the murky green water were pets, but the lack of tank accessories gave away our true intentions, stunning my white friends.

“I just want to try taking a family trip like other families do, mom, dad, and me. It makes me sad that we never tried to have a normal experience like that even once. That’s the one little selfish thing I want, but we can’t do it.”

“그냥 남들처럼 엄마, 아빠, 저 셋이 가족여행 한번이라도 가고싶은데 그 평범한 걸 한번 못 해보니까 서러워요. 그게 제가 가진 하나뿐인 작은 욕심인데 그게 안 되니까…”

Little Dreamer

These days it seems are tough on dreams
this cruel world can leave so much broken
dreamers, children, lovers and families too
loving words of healing are seldom spoken 

Lacking either a prayer or her ozone layer
our mother’s in an endless state of retreat 
the greedy win and the cycle begins again
yet their victory shall taste most bittersweet

I’m sorry little dreamer, but you cannot win
for even love your innocent heart will break
you can pack it in, go home and cry alone
but then I ask what difference will you make

Scarleteen Confidential: In Defense of Teen Media

For two years, I worked in a bookstore that was aimed primarily at children and teenagers.  It was a job I quite enjoyed, but I quickly discovered that when you work near books, people always want to tell you their opinions on said books.  That’s fine most of the time.  But I noticed a pattern when parents or adults would refer to The Hunger Games series.   They would express dismay over a child wanting to read the book, wondering what they saw in it, and either implicitly or explicitly stating that they thought the book was not good for youth to be reading.  I would usually give a neutral response about how yes, the book is dark (for those who do not know, the series focuses on a dystopian world in which children are forced to fight to the death on television as a form of political control).

What struck me about these conversations was that ninety-nine percent of the time, the adult in question had not even read the book they were criticizing.  They dismissed it, either as inappropriate trash or as mindless fiction without ever actually seeing what it had to say.  

I realized that this fit with a larger pattern in terms of how adults often interact with and view teen media.  Adults are quick to dismiss anything aimed at or consumed by teenagers as vapid and not worth paying attention to.

This mirrors ways adults often tend to react to or view teenagers and their emotions.  Something that lingers with me from my teen years was the feeling that the adults in my life viewed my emotions and ideas as poorly thought out or lacking in substance. That feeling is often echoed by users in our direct services. They feel guilty for their emotions or try to minimize them, in spite of the fact that their emotions make sense and are proportional to the situation they’re in (and even if they weren’t, that doesn’t make them any less real to the person experiencing them).  They’ve picked up from the culture around them that teens like themselves are too emotional for their own good.  They’re left feeling as thought they can’t reach out or express what’s going on in their hearts and minds because the adults around them will be dismissive of it.    

This assumption runs both ways: if teenagers are overly-emotional and silly, then any media aimed at them must also be that way, and worthy of either hysterical scrutiny or dismissal instead of measured, thoughtful engagement by adults.    

Both Roxane Gay and Sherman Alexie have written brilliant pieces about why many teens gravitate towards darker stories.  What’s curious to me is that this is a hard concept for many adults to grasp.  We were all teenagers once, so is it simply that they can’t remember what being one felt like?  Why do we so often dismiss the things they like and deeply connect with?

Taking a critical, good faith look at the media teens are drawn to requires us to consider two uncomfortable ideas: that teenagers are thinking about and talking about complex, darker aspects of life and that they may be seeking these stories out because tough things are happening to them. The cultural narrative is one in which childhood and teen years are times of innocence, freedom , and safety.  The reality is that teens deal with suicide, sexual assault, coming out, lust, joy, fear, loss, chronic illness, racism, etc just as adults do, and with far fewer years of experience that could help them cope with or explain what is happening.  And for some, the first time they see themselves or their experiences reflected back at them is in those stories that adults dismiss as “merely” YA (young adult) literature.  

Too, YA lit, or pop music, or movies, even if they don’t make big profound statements or tackle heavy topics, often have an emotional truth to them.  We listen to the latest boy band ballad not because it reveals new, radical truths about love.  We listen to it because it hits directly upon what it feels like to be young and in love.  We read coming of age novels, set both here and in imagined worlds, because even if they’re pretentious, corny, or poetic and well-written, they echo something real about our own lives, hopes, and fears.

And media can be a major point of connection between individuals, and when you’re young, you’re just starting to learn  how to find your people.  That process can feel fraught, and is filled with lots of trial and error.  Having a book, music, or T.V show in common with someone makes it easier to find people with whom you might be able to form a more solid bond.  The things that we love act as beacons, helping people with shared passions and interests find each other.    

Even if teen media isn’t serving some deeper function, even if it’s just an pleasant escape or distraction, that doesn’t invalidate it.  We all deserve spaces to for escape, and I’ll wager that we all have books, movies, T.V shows, and music that we enjoy that are considered fluffy or trashy by others.  Those qualities are not unique to teen media (soap operas or the latest car chase movie franchise anyone?), and it is disingenuous to act as though they are.    

I think there’s also the component of adults viewing teenagers as a different species from themselves.  When the adults at the store wondered aloud (often in front of the teenager in question, but never addressed to them) what they could possibly see in these books I was always tempted to answer, “Why do you read the books, watch the movies, and listen to the music that you do?”  Teens are people, and they enjoy and consume the things they do for all the various reasons that people do.

Why write about this at all?  Because if we undervalue and scoff at teen media we are subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, undervaluing the experiences and thoughts of teens.  

That reinforces the notions that they already have about whether or not the adults in their lives will listen to them or value what they have to say.  So, they will often start to wall off that part of their lives so that adults can’t criticize or judge them. And while it’s certainly not a one to one correlation, that self-protectiveness can lead to them not wanting to open up about or discuss other, more important or sensitive aspects of their lives, even when they need or want support and advice from the adults around them.    

What can you do to subvert these unhelpful norms?  One very simple thing is to just stop passing judgment on media you haven’t even consumed, or that isn’t something you connect with yourself.  You can decide if it seems like something for you or not, but don’t just dismiss it out of hand because it’s popular with teenagers.  Something else we encourage is that you expose yourself to the media that the teens in your life are consuming.  That doesn’t mean that you have to read and watch everything that they do, as that can feel as though you are encroaching on spaces that they’ve carved out for themselves.  But it will provide you with yet another window into what’s going on in their lives.  And hey, you might find that you enjoy some of it.  

Media can also be a way for you and the teens in your life to connect.  Having a television show or book series that you enjoy together and talk about in depth helps maintain the bond between the two of you.  And, as previously mentioned, these stories often address complex topics, and that creates a space for you and teens to talk about subjects you might not normally discuss.  

If you don’t want to engage with a certain piece of media, but you’re curious about what it’s about or why a teenager likes it, ask them.  That could result in a “I don’t know, I just do” or a ten minute explanation about their feelings about love, time travel, friendship, and aliens.  Regardless, you’ve at least expressed an interest in their lives and hobbies, and you’ve granted them the respect of asking them about those things rather than by-passing their opinion in favor of one from an adult.  

In the end, it’s best to let teens know that you respect them and their desire to interact with the things that they enjoy.  That can go a long way towards making them feel as though they have an understanding space in which to explore ideas and experiences, and towards them feeling valued as people.

- Sam

This is part of our series for parents or guardians. To find out more about the series, click here. For our top five guiding principles for parents or guardians, click here; for a list of resources, click here. To see all posts in the series, click the Scarleteen Confidential tag at Scarleteen, or follow the series here on Tumblr at scarleteenconfidential.tumblr.com.

(Excuse my hastily made graphic) I love the idea of these families, and I’ve been wanting to start my own for a while, so here it is for you all!

What do I have to do to join?

  • Mbf this ridiculous nerd
  • Reblog this post
  • Check here to see who’s available (hover to see)
  • Send me an ask with who you’d like to be!
  • If you don’t see the character you want, let me know and I’ll add them!

What do I get for joining?

  • My eternal love
  • Cute messages and personalized fics
  • Cookies
  • Anything you want, really

So get reblogging and let’s all be friends!