Last week, I spoke to Asheville Middle School’s Outdoor Club. Over 40 pre-teens stayed after school and crammed into a tiny classroom to learn more about the natural world. I gained far more inspiration than I provided, especially from their candid questions: Where is the best place to see fish swimming? Do bears eat people’s lunches? Have you ever almost died in the woods? Do cannibals still exist?

At the end, I asked the students to write about their favorite outdoor experiences and what they like most about being outside. Here are a few highlights:

I like the outdoors because it is a place where I can clear my head and don’t have to worry about anything. I love to see the pretty flowers and other plants.

Miracle Duncan

My best outdoor experience was when my stepdad and I went bike riding together. We biked almost all the way around Asheville on our bikes.

Desmond

My favorite outdoor moment was when I was at cross country practice and we went running in the rain.

Gloria

I went to Yosemite National Park last summer on a camping trip with my family. I built a fire with one ember and a twig and we climbed Half Dome whichwas freaking awesome. It would have taken me two hours but my parents were slowing me down. We cooked all of our food over the campfire. A few bears ran through our campsite but my parents wouldn’t let me pet them.

Anonymous

I went to go see some waterfalls. I could feel the mist hit my skull. We stayed the whole day. It was so fun. I wish I could go again.

Destini McKinney

I was in a field, except the only problem was there was a tropical storm going on. I was trying to find my parents who were supposed to be back at camp, Lightning was everywhere. I got to the camp and no parents. I was scared. I got out of the tent just in time as a lightning bolt hit it. I was running straight for the bathroom when I found out that my parents were there! We got in a car and drove to a hotel.

Brooks Wallace

The reason I like the outdoors is because you can do just about anything outside. You can’t do as much inside like for example you cannot play football inside your house but you can play outside.

Anonymous

My favorite moment was when I went to Cape Cod and woke up at 6 a.m. to go fishing. I like fishing and the ocean.

Eli

Throwing the football.

Devon

The beach is fun. I like jumping through the waves. I also like getting sand stuck to my skin after I’m wet. Fish are friends not food.

Anonymous

Two friends and I went to Charleston Beach. We arrived at night, but we all wanted to see the ocean immediately so we went for a night walk on the beach. I was looking for seashells when I saw a one-foot thing in the sand from the tide. It was a baby shark. I saw it was still breathing so my friends and I released it in the ocean. A large full reddish moon was rising, and a couple of dolphins splashed in the waves.

Hariette Reade-Brown

I like the outdoors because I like to explore and look for animals and camp and hike.

Gabe Williams

I went camping with my friends for three days and nights at Cherokee.

Tyrin

A big paintball match in Tenneseee, palying with my dogs, playing soccer, going on a cross-country road trip, and going to the beach.

Rogelio Cordovez

My favorite outdoor experience is when I went to Sliding Rock.

Sam Cavagnaro

On a family trip we went to Niagara Falls in Canada. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Jacob Israel

I love swimming in the ocean and the breezes and everything about the beach. It is just nice to get away every once in awhile.

Shadow

I went to Sliding Rock with my cousins. We had the best time other than my cousin falling down.

Jake Wiegman

When I went caving, we had to walk through big puddles. We also saw some bats that were close enough to pet.

Anonymous

I love the outdoors because there are trees. Trees are never the same. First they’re green, then red, orange, and yellow, and then they’re naked, and then they start turning green again. Also I love the rain. It’s cool how water falls from the sky. Also, stars are super fly. They are so trippy and shiny and nobody owns them. (One day I will own a star.). Also, I love how animals live on the earth, because without animals we would never be able to eat meat. I love meat and blood. That’s why I want to be a brain surgeon. Brains are natural like flowers and wild turkeys. But not fake rocks and chicken farms like Tyson where the force chickens into confined spaces where there is no sunlight and feed them antibiotics and food that messes up their genetic code and they live in their own poop. Go humans. The government is cutting down all the nature and killing everything for money so enjoy it while you can. But that’s okay because soon we will be fat millionaires. The downside is that your money will depreciate and be worth about the same as a fist full of sand.

George