BEND, Ore. — For many outdoors enthusiasts in Central Oregon, camping with family is one of the most fulfilling ways to spend time outside.
For parents, those first few camping trips with young children often produce sacred memories that last a lifetime.
Bend author Lucas Alberg’s experiences camping throughout the High Desert with his young family helped provide some inspiration for his new children’s book, “Goodnight Great Outdoors,” which was released nationally last Tuesday by Adventure Publications. Megan Marie Myers, also of Bend, produced the illustrations in the book.
“It’s such a bonding experience for any family, right?” Alberg said of camping with his kids. “I think that’s one thing that inspired me to write it, too, because I’ve had that bonding experience with my family, and with my kids. It was something my wife and I did before kids, and now to be able to do that with kids, it’s such a nice bonding experience.”
The rest of the inspiration he required came from the renowned children’s book “Goodnight Moon,” written in 1947 by Margaret Wise Brown. Alberg, 42, whose first book was “Trail Running Bend and Central Oregon,” released regionally in 2016, wanted to put an outdoors spin on “Goodnight Moon,” the classic nighttime read that has helped send generations of children to peaceful slumbers.
Alberg’s day job is as the senior brand communications manager for Hydro Flask, and his wife, Rae Alberg, is the founder and teacher at Bend Forest School, a nature immersion and early education program. They have two children: son Loren, 5, and daughter Birdie, 4.
“I personally love just the rhyme and the lilt of Margaret Wise Brown’s original text,” Lucas Alberg said of “Goodnight Moon.” “And being an outdoorsman and just loving the outdoors, and working in the outdoor industry, too … we’re just an outdoor family. So I kind of wanted to pay tribute, I guess, to that original book, but through the vein of the outdoors. That was the goal. There’s no pretending it’s not inspired by that book. It’s very analogous in cadence and such to that book, and that was intentional just because I think that book is so wonderful. But I did want to put an outdoor spin on it.”
Alberg – who was born and raised in Kansas and has lived in Bend for the past 11 years and the Pacific Northwest for more than 20 years – said he and his family have camped frequently over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, often camping locally at dispersed areas throughout the Deschutes National Forest, including forest roads near the Metolius River.
“My kids love camping,” Alberg said. “This past year with COVID, we camped more and more. That was one silver lining. We camped more locally, just dispersed camping back on forest roads and such.”
Myers said the book is ideal to bring on camping trips.
“That would be really fun, to be reading this story to your kids in your tent or camper as you’re going to sleep,” she said.
Aside from providing some nighttime reading on camping trips or at home, Alberg wanted to pay tribute to “Goodnight Moon,” one of the first books he and Rae read to their children.