Editor's Note

Playing in the Playground

A recent trip to Sequoia National Park shows how awe-inspiring access can be.

“God made the world to give us a giant playground, and we should play in it.” Those words were spoken to me when I was 12-years-old, and regardless of your beliefs, non-beliefs, or perspectives on religion, I think the sentiment that this world is for enjoying and rejoicing in rings universally true. I was recently reminded of those words, and how they relate to the value of our industry.

A camp counselor said those words to me on my first trip to Zion National Park, which was organized by a local YMCA group. We had just emerged from our tents, blinking into a sunrise that was beaming down on our campsite, when the counselor said them. From that morning forward we definitely played. I can still remember every hike and activity we did on that trip, as we crisscrossed around the West, visiting various parks.

I had recently moved to Southern California from Ohio at the time, and my parents decided that YMCA outing would be my summer camp. Packed into a convoy of Ford vans, the kids and counselors would go on a road trip to different parks, staying a few days at each. Over the next few summers I enjoyed a number of national parks thanks to those YMCA road trips.

As I grew older, I transitioned into another program that took kids on more “hard core” adventures backpacking through various national parks. Eventually, those experiences gave me the skills and confidence to go backpacking on my own once I hit my college years.

Those words and that idea — that we should enjoy, marvel at and truly value this world and the treasures it offers — launched a very formative set of experiences for me, and I have held onto them my whole life.

And, last month, I shared those words with my three daughters. I have been taking my girls camping since a very young age, but hadn’t yet taken my girls to a major park for several days of camping until a few weeks ago, when I took the family camping in Sequoia National Park.

I wanted to pass along that same formative that meant so much to me, and given the spectacular nature of the giant sequoias and everything the park had to offer, I think my lesson hit home.

A New Lesson

But I took in another formative experience of my own. It happened while walking through the grove of giant sequoias that includes General Sherman, the largest tree in the world. At 275 feet tall and 25 feet in diameter, General Sherman comprises a trunk volume of 52,513 cubic feet, making it the largest tree in the world. It’s old, too. While not the oldest tree (there’s a bristlecone pine that’s more than 5,000 years old), experts date General Sherman at between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. In 600 B.C., mighty Rome was a mere trading post.

Walking among General Sherman and its fellow botanical behemoths was almost indescribable, but what I was actually walking on grabbed my attention: It was a paved path.

The entire trail around those giant sequoias, as well as the Congress and Alta trails, which go out to other titanic trees, were all wheelchair accessible. Other key Sequoia sites featured similar access, and make no mistake, park patrons needing that access were taking full advantage of it.

And that expanded access comes after the National Park Service spent the past 10 years removing a parking lot and other structures that were threatening the trees’ roots. The park has undergone significant reforestation and restoration, in fact. But access has simultaneously been increased, so that everyone in the world can enjoy and be awed by these global treasures.

And it’s all because of durable medical equipment and the HME businesses that provide it. This industry helps ensure that everyone can “play in the playground.” That is something in which you should take sequoia-sized pride.

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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