Why Connecting Kids With Nature Could Just Save the World (Part 2)
Two-by-two the kids made their way down the path. The air was cool and crisp; the sky blue with wispy cirrus clouds creating a patchwork blanket as far as the eye could see. Even standing at the end of the pack, you could hear and feel the kids’ excitement as they kept their eyes peeled for signs of wildlife. For some, this was the first time they had ever done anything like this.
We made stops along the way: To learn the basics of navigating by compass; to pick immature rose hips and learn about using them for jams; to nestle under a dense patch of vines and brush to learn about the importance of protecting one’s self from the elements in a survival situation; to crouch our way through an overgrown shrub ‘forest’ and challenge the kids to make simple lean-tos out of the fallen branches.
So where was this adventure from? An amazing outdoor experience program presented by the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Newport, Rhode Island. Our oldest son turned nine over the weekend and we invited some of his friends to join us there.
The program was led by one of the NBS’s talented staff members and from the moment she came in, she had all the kids wide-eyed and attentive. The kids learned about what a nature sanctuary is and why it’s important to have them. When she asked questions, the kids answered eagerly and with conviction. Their insight into the natural world — even amidst all that is man-made — was intact. Their curiosity was infectious and spread like wildfire across the group.
I’ll say it again: Connecting kids and Nature is one of THE most important responsibilities we have in this world if we are to foster and re-discover our deep-seeded connection with the natural world.
The more I see kids (and the adults who are with them) experiencing first-hand what it feels like to be completely immersed in the outdoors, the more optimism I feel that our future doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. All we have to do is open our senses to the masterpiece that is before us: The symphonies of sounds and colors and shapes and smells that can ground us in simple and pure joy. The poetry in motion that a walk in the woods or a glimpse of a red-tailed hawk soaring above sets before us.
To those who are on the front lines of connecting kids with nature, thank you.
As winter winds its way down and spring creeps ever closer, now is the time to think about how you can help a child experience Nature first-hand. Find out where the state parks are where you live. Or seek out a national park or hiking trail near by. Search for organizations like the Audubon Society or clubs in your community that offer programs with outdoor classrooms. Start planning a garden for your home or school. Opportunities abound – all we need to do is make the connections.
Thanks for reading. If you’ve enjoyed this post feel free to share it with your circle using the Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+ buttons below. Not a subscriber to The New Pursuit? Subscribe today. Many thanks. While you’re here, you might also enjoy these posts:
- Why Connecting Kids With Nature Could Save the World (Part 1)
- 12 Favorite Books for Connecting Kids with Nature and Life
- “When Your Heart Is Beautiful”: Relishing the Simple Insights of Children