Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Video

Merry Christmas.

Here's a cool video to watch.

Children and Nature: Awakening a Sense of Wonder
Narrated by Peter Coyote Music by Paul Lloyd Warner Dr. Jane Goodall believes it is essential that parents and other mentors of children guide them to make meaningful connections with the natural world. To help accomplish this, she has initiated a program called Roots and Shoots, now in 29 countries. Joining her in expressing the importance of enabling children to form a close relationship with nature are Dr. Sylvia Earle, world-renowned marine biologist, Lee Cole, naturalist and children̢۪s guide at Hidden Villa Farm and Wilderness Preserve in California, and Jeff Rutherford, director of the Marine Research Institute, a ship and shore program for children on San Francisco Bay.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Outdoor Biz

Saw this interview with REI head Sally Jewell posted at Children and Nature Network. Worth reading if you haven't already.

Merry Christmas. Posts may be sporadic for several days as we celebrate the holiday and get up on the slopes.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Future Challenges


Friedman gives a good look at the what the next generation will be dealing with.
The world is rightly focused on climate change. But if we don’t have a strategy for reducing global carbon emissions and preserving biodiversity, we could end up in a very bad place, like in a crazy rush into corn ethanol, and palm oil for biodiesel, without enough regard for their impact on the natural world.

“If we don’t plan well, we could find ourselves with a healthy climate on a dead planet,” said Glenn Prickett, senior vice president of Conservation International.


The mantra is: if the next generation is not engaged in nature, we lose everything...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Photo Contest

The Arizona Park and Recreation Association has a new photo contest. Take pictures of Kids in Nature and send them in.
Photos of nature and children enjoying outdoor environments are being sought for Arizona Parks and Recreation’s “Leave No Child Inside” photo contest. Start taking pictures today as entries must be postmarked by May 1, 2008!

The purpose of the “Leave No Child Inside” theme is to encourage parents to take their children to National, State, County and City parks to enjoy nature and recreate in Arizona’s natural areas. According to Richard Louv’s testimony to the Department of the Interior in February, “In just a few decades, the way children understand and experience their neighborhoods and the natural world has changed radically. Even as children become more aware of global threats to the environment, their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading.”

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Notes

The Headline for the Day
Canada's National Post has a great headline:
This season's hot new toy: fresh air
Read it here.

Spammed Blogs
I search out blog posts on our topics, and are coming across more of what I call Spam Blogs, where text is written, or maybe stolen, from other blogs, and then infiltrated with commercial links for things like car loans and home refinancing. I won't give any links for this, you'll know them when you see them. I won't say what I advocate doing to those who create these so called blogs.


FWS Video of the Week

is on children and nature, and is worth the watch. Check it out here.

Kids Binoculars
With Christmas upon us, here's a Nextag search page listing a bunch of binoculars for little kids and older ones.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ski Notes Thursday

I'm really looking forward to doing some skiing next week with friends and family. Unlike the dismal snow season last year, there has been good snowfall thus far up north, and plenty of cold temps for additional snowmaking. I haven't had the chance to ski with my daughter in a year, and she is assuring me that her huge leap in ability will challenge me. We'll see about that.

When I was a teen, we lived to ski. We would occasionally have Warren Miller Films screened at our school, usually sponsored by the High School Ski Club. As cornball as Miller can be, his films are always a celebration of the sport that few have matched. And they come from a simpler time, where we reveled over the smell of burning Ptex, the graphics on the new Rossis, and fresh dumps of snow that seem less prevalent as our climate changes.

Miller once said:
For years I have been telling people: “Any job that you have in the city you can get a job doing the same thing at a ski resort. All you have to do is quit your job, rent a trailer, load it up and move to the mountains.”

Of course, that kind of thing is much harder to pull off in these days of million dollar condos and the notorious Jackson Hole 7-7-7 homes (seven bedrooms, 7,000 square feet, seven million dollars). Warren is livin in the past, but so what.

Even with the "ski porn" available today, Miller is still up there in my mind, as his storytelling always beats the sometimes cliche "huckin" and "yeah dude" dialogues in the more up to date films. Nowadays, Miller's films are produced by his son, and I look forward to this year's entry.

Here's a blog post on New West that Warren wrote for the New West Snoblog.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Conservationists For Kids


New York has incredible natural resources, crowned by the amazing Adirondack Park, which is actually protected in the NY Constitution as "Forever Wild". The NY Department of Environmental Conservation is working to engage kids with its programs, and a good way to learn about them is to check out Conservationists For Kids.

The NY DEC folks have completely revamped the magazine and are sending copies to fourth graders statewide.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Santa Fights Obesity

In Scotland, a Santa is pulling the pillow out to fight childhood obesity.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Vitamin D


There was an interesting story on NPR's Morning Edition this AM that discussed the relationship between Vitamin D and brain function.

Listen to it here.

Seems from this layman's perspective, if this is true, then kids who spend their time indoors have less calcitrol (vitamin D) going to their brains, which may cause health issues. More research is certainly needed, so we'll see where this goes.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dispatch From Bali

Here's a post from itsgettinghotinhere.org on the Youth Statement given at the Bali Conference.

WHO WE ARE

I am Anna Keenan from Australia, Karmila Parakkasi from Indonesia, and Whit Jones from the United States of America. We speak today as part of the global youth climate movement. Half the world’s population is under 30, and will live with the decisions you make today.

THE YOUTH ARE RISING

We cannot wait any longer. If you lead us on the wrong path, we have no time to find our way back and undo your decisions. The potential effects will be devastating and indiscriminant.

Youth around the world are rising to the challenge. As emerging leaders, we are mobilizing the public, building powerful movements, and forging international coalitions.

But all this won’t be enough without strong action from you. We have put our trust in you. We need a Bali Breakthrough — now.

Speaking of Ipods

Here's a link to a conference being held after the first of the year. Great title, important work.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Note

I wanted to expand on the short yesterday about the Ipod vending machines. My point in posting that was to declare that I felt nature was far better suited to relax us than an Ipod could. And that it was a good indicator of where our culture is when the media focuses on that type of story. While the Children (People) and Nature Movement is growing, it still is not getting the media attention it deserves.

With that said, I should come clean and say I do own an Ipod, have used one at an airport, and my friends know how much much music I have on my computer (you have no idea...) to feed that Ipod. Airports nowadays are pretty hellish places, and any distraction from the chaos is welcome.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Shorts

Congrats
Go to Rich Louv for winning the Audubon Medal.

A San Diego colleague of Rich's writes about it.

Wired Culture
These have apparently been around for a year now, but I just heard of them. Ipod vending machines in airports. One report I read told of how Ipods had become "tranquilizers" for a crazy world, especially at a chaotic airport. I love music, but ugghh, I'll take a sunset and some crisp fall breezes any day over tunes at the airport. But this where this culture is...

Nordic Fun
I grew up cross country skiing and learned to really appreciate nordic areas. they would groom trails and have neat trail networks to make the whole day an adventure. Cheap too, the costs are far less than downhill areas. Viking Nordic Ski Center in Vermont was one place we would go to. Check it out. They have done much to make nordic skiing appealing to kids, which is a tough nut to crack when big downhill areas are nearby. They have gotten a couple of feet of snow up that way the past few weeks.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

TPL Interviews Rich Louv

The trust For Public Lands Fall 2007 Magazine includes an interview with Rich Louv:
And no matter how good a job they are doing now, conservationists and environmentalists need to do more. They need to realize that the future of the environmental movement—indeed of the planet itself—may depend on this work. Studies show that people who care deeply about the future of the environment almost always enjoyed transcendent experiences in nature when they were children. If nature experiences for children continue to fade, where will future stewards of the earth come from?


Rich's interview was posted here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

From Rural Virginia

Ward Burton, NASCAR driver and conservationist:
“This is what defines quality of life,” Burton said. “Our property, our farms and our heritage … this is the single greatest gift we can share with out future generations, our children.”
He said children are suffering from “nature-deficit disorder” because they are not connected with the outdoors.
“We have a responsibility to share our passion with the next generation,” he said. “Land is like a child - it must be nurtured; together, we can make a difference.”


Rural Virginia does not want to become another "urban center". More here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kids Post

Today's Washington Post's Kids Post has some interesting data:


Although not scientific, it's good news for nature, and kids.

They also have a feature on video games, read it if you want to know the "enemy". Too bad there's no feature on kids and nature...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Report From NH

John Corrigan reports in the Concord Monitor on the NH Leave No Child Indoors Forum.

Did the crowd reflect a new national movement, or simply the recognition by a lot of concerned people that young people are too sedentary and not getting outside nearly enough?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Daring Book


The Star Tribune writes about a companion book to the Dangerous Book for Boys.
When "Harriet the Spy" comes home from school, she straps on her tool belt and heads out alone into the wilds of Manhattan's Upper East Side, creeping down alleys and peering through skylights. Unlike the 1960s heroine of Louise Fitzhugh's classic novel, 21st-century girls come home from school, sit down and log on.

Authors Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz set out to combat this sedentary, computer-centered culture in "The Daring Book for Girls," a companion to last year's runaway bestseller from Britain...


Check it out.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Three Cheers

to the Fish and Wildlife Service for planning and presenting an employee workshop and training class at the National Conservation Training Center on reconnecting people to nature. One hundred people from the Service spent last week focused in on ways to help people reconnect.

FWS Director Dale Hall, who spoke at the course, said it all when he warned that if conservation professionals don't focus on the issue of nature deficit and find ways of reconnecting people to nature, all of the work that is being done to conserve our fish, wildlife and plants and habitats around the country will be in vain. In the future, a disconnected public will likely reject the very notion that nature is important for all of our lives.

Right on.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Outdoor Industry Foundation Action

Quick post today.

The Outdoor Industry Foundation Play It Forward Program has several cool initiatives to engage teens in outdoor activities.

The Teens Outside is really interesting:
Teens Outside™ makes the pivotal connection between mentors and youth over a sustained period of time and directly engages the outdoor business community to Get Youth Active in outdoor recreation.

More


The Wall Street Journal chimes in.

These latest reports on childhood obesity came from the New England Journal of Medicine. Here's a link to the first report and a link to the second.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More Bad News on Childhood Obesity


Things are not getting better. The Kansas City Star Reports:
Two research studies published today link childhood and adolescent obesity to substantially greater risks of heart disease. That means in the years ahead, thousands more people may be suffering heart attacks or chronic chest pain, or dying before they reach their 50th birthday.

and

“The prospects if nothing is done are potentially catastrophic,” warned David Ludwig, director of the weight-management program at Children’s Hospital Boston and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, who did not participate in the studies. “The economic costs will be staggering.”

So now we have a public health issue, a conservation issue, and an economic issue. groups like those in the link list, and folks like Rich Louv are speaking out every day. What's it going to take for maybe one Presidential candidate to start talking about the issue of nature deficit? What's it going to take to really ignite this issue with the public? The fuel is all there.

More here.

Snowflake Bentley


We have family that lives in Jericho Center, Vermont, so we're familiar with the work of Wilson Bentley, also known as Snowflake Bentley. Bentley "captured" and photographed more than 5,000 snowflakes, each on unique. Like birding or catching frogs, checking out snowflakes is a great way to connect kids with nature, especially when school is cancelled.

The Bentley Website says:

From the earliest memories of our childhood, many of us can remember hearing the phrase "no two snowflakes are alike". This discovery was made in the small rural town of Jericho, Vermont by Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931).

Check out the Snowflake Bentley Site here. Lots of good info and links.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

First Snow Misc.


Driving overe the Blue Ridge last night I saw the lights on at Whitetail Ski Area and I knew that winter was coming. Then today we got the first snowstorm of the winter here in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Blue Ridge, one of those Alberta Clippers. Nothing like what hit New England a few days ago, but enough to close the schools and strain the limited number of snowplows in this neck of the woods.

We've had a link on the site for some time to the Greater Cincinnati’s Leave No Child Inside site. There's another site in Ohio-- Leave No Child INSIDE Central Ohio Collaborative, check it out here. Lots of good stuff coming from Ohio.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dirty Hands

The Center for Land-Based Learning's programs ensure kids come home with dirty hands. They also prepare kids to be the next generation of conservation leaders. Those are good things.
At the Center for Land-Based Learning, we believe that young people have the capacity to think critically, make positive decisions, work together and lead their communities. Our programs target high school students because:

* There are so few experience-based programs in agriculture and environmental sciences for this age group.
* The mid-teens are developmentally the appropriate time to instill skills that help students make positive, informed decisions about their futures.
* It's the right time to introduce students to the resources and practical information that encourages post-secondary studies related to environmental sustainability.


More here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Allegheny


We dodged a weather bullet this weekend and now that the front has passed the wind is howling. In weather like this, the winds blow from the northwest, across the Allegheny Front, the long series of north south ridges whose eastern side rims the west edges of the Cumberland and Shenandoah Valleys. Further west in PA and WV lie some wild places, and rare habitats that go unknown to many. heck, they get as much snow in the Lots of opportunities to get out in those hills.

Matthew Craig is an artist and journalist based in Pittsburgh that has a number of projects, including a public television show and a radio show called The Allegheny Front. Some interesting interviews.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

and Scotland...


However, some experts believe this is a struggle that today's parents are losing. No matter how many organizScotlanded sports events or craft sessions urban children are ferried to in their parents' cars, the fact that these activities take place in a controlled and risk-free environment far away from the natural world of rivers, woods and wildlife is a cause for profound concern.


More here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

From the Heartland

Another good editorial, this time from Kansas:

Do you have a memorable experience or place from childhood that shaped your view of the world, or perhaps yourself? Maybe it was time spent at a nearby woods or stream where you could play undisturbed for hours on end. And your parents probably didn't worry about you as long as your chores were done and you came home for supper.


Read it here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Eagles


The NCTC Eagles are busy working on the nest. With a new webcam in place, we expect to have live video and audio up in January. the NCTC cam is consistently one of the top viewed bird cams on the web.

Best times to see the pair is in the am, between 5:00 am and 8:00 am, and in the PM between 4:00 pm and dark, although they have been active in the early afternoon recently.


Check it out at here, and join the eagle cam community at the blog.

I know that this technological thing is not overtly getting folks outdoors, but the interest in this cam has resulted in a number of school trips to NCTC to get outdoors and see the nest, and many, many schools around the country are watching the cam. Hopefully it is a catalyst for getting kids out.

This eagle showed up as I posted:

Nature Deficit Everywhere

The notion of nature deficit continues to resonate. Here's a post on an obscure blog that gives some good personal testimony.
I suppose I hadn’t thought much about this problem since I live in a rural area where children are outside more than their city counterparts. However, I usually have at least a couple of students who seldom, if ever, play outside for extended periods of unstructured time. I suppose safety is the big concern these days. Parents don’t want to send their children outside for unsupervised play, and they are too busy to join them. Another concern is germs. Parents don’t want their children playing with dirt and bugs and sticks and other dirty things. Better to be inside where everything is washed down with anti-bacterial soap. Better to have them in the house playing video games or watching television where it is safe. Turns out that safety is only an illusion. They may be safe from physical harm, but their brains and bodies are turning to mush.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More From NH


Outdoor writer John Corrigan writes about fishing and kids. Who wouldn't want to catch one of those landlocked salmon?
It was a day to reach out and touch ... well, something cold, wet and slimy. Some complain that we cope with this time of dwindling daylight and declining temperatures by turning our attention too quickly to the holidays.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Changing Experiences of Childhood

World Changing has an interesting essay up on changes in childhood experiences.
One of the most effective responses, according to research in the field of significant life experiences is to nurture connections with the earth. Spend time in nature with your little ones. Send your kids outside to play with someone who loves the woods or is happy to overturn rocks in the vacant lot in search of bugs. Create space and time for childhood adventures and share the wonder of their discoveries. "Healing the broken bond between our young and nature is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demand it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depend upon it," writes Richard Louv, best-selling author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. In a world filled with well-intentioned parents driving their kids from Little League to piano to gymnastics, such moments of unallocated time may be difficult to find. Yet they are precious.

Read it here.

NH Children and Nature Forum

Here's the program from yesterday's New Hampshire Leave No Child Inside Forum: A Community Conversation about Connecting Children and Nature.

And more on the NH Initiative.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Innovation from Maine

Good ideas keep flowing from Maine. This time, it's gift certificates for participation in outdoor programs at Tanglewood 4-H Camp and Learning Center.

Instead of giving a child one more device that will collect dust in a couple months, why not give him or her a Tanglewood gift certificate ... a gift to the outdoors, a gift of nature, adventure and discovery?


Read the rest here.

Outside in Southern Colorado

Too many have no idea what it’s like to climb a tree or build a dam in a stream. My surveys indicate that the majority of Pueblo’s fifth-graders have never gone on a hike and have never been to the mountains prior to participating in one of our programs.

See editorial here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lost Ski Areas


When we were kids we were outside, fishing, making forts, doing a lot of things today's kids just don't do. In the winter, we were out on the hills near our house, making ski jumps and naming the runs we would track through the woods. When we were lucky, we would get out skiing at a real ski area. Places like Round Top, Magic Mountain, Stowe, Bromley, Mohawk Mountain, Brodie, Jiminy Peak,Satan's Kingdom, Glen Ellen, Okemo and Snow Valley.

Like the woods of our youth, many of these areas are no more. In New England alone, 548 ski areas have gone away over the years.

What area did you go to that is no longer there? Check them out at the fantastic New England Lost Ski Area Project site.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Richard Louv gives parents and educators a sense of hope," Vander Velden said. "All is not lost. There are studies to indicate that these childhood conditions can be improved by providing children with opportunities to be outdoors and up close with nature."


More here.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beach House Blues

For those with the means, a second home, say up at"the lake" or down at "the beach" is a great way to get away from the daily grind and get the kids out. I had a number of friends who were always outdoors because of their parent's second home, and I was able to take advantage of the opportunity many times.

This NY Times piece describes why in this era, it's not that easy.
They were so thrilled. Their children — then 14, 11, 9 and 8 — were so thrilled. They collected sea glass and ran on the beach with the dog in the summer. And deep into the fall, Ms. Hammerling recalled, “we enjoyed the quiet with all the tourists gone.”

“We strolled on the Boardwalk and roasted marshmallows in our outdoor fire pit,” she said.

Friday, November 23, 2007

From Canada

Abbreviated holiday weekend post.

"Steve," my friend said, "they're all gone — Warner's Pond, Caddy's Pond — they're both filled in, and the North Woods is just one big housing development."


Check this out.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Weather Channel poll




link here.

Thanksgiving Day Post


Here's a post from earlier in the Fall that I came across recently. It's worth checking out.

My hometown is the small town of Coon Rapids, population 1,200. Downtown hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years. There are a number of new homes with the owners commuting to jobs in larger communities. All but one of the car dealerships are gone, along with a number of farm machinery dealers. In many ways it is a typical rural community except for its multi-million dollar school athletic facilities—track; swimming pool; football, baseball, soccer, softball fields; electronic scoreboards; press boxes; concession stands and more. Kids who participate in multiple sports often practice nearly every day. Several years ago the football program had to switch to 8-player teams because of low student participation and have to travel further for games.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Nature Deficit

The issue of nature deficit is really becoming part of the vocabulary when it shows up on a blog like this one. It's not a bad post either.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Latest Book Review

I am not one to review books but the “Last Child in the Woods – Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv just seemed too perfect of a book for me not to recommend to the many home schoolers, educators and parents that visit this blog. Louv goes into great depth about how our children are increasingly disconnected from nature and why it is important to have our children around nature.

Read it here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fishing



Patagonia has their new kid's catalog out. Here's a great little essay on fishing from that catalog.
A slight break in the weather. Not enough to bring the rivers into shape, but enough to send us out of the house and into a light but steady drizzle. We’ll put on our rain gear and venture into the woods. It’s not a fishing trip, but at least Skyla and I are going outside together.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

USA Weekend

USA Weekend--getting kids outdoors and in touch with nature improves their health.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Notes

November is here in the VA Piedmont. Its 30 degrees and a northwest wind is gusting. We burned one of the wood stoves last night, a refreshing change after running the AC for so long this Summer and early Fall. We're also at Peak foliage here, at least our version of peak foliage. Here and there is a sugar maple in full color, but mostly it's been a quick change in color of the many other tree varieties. For all the talk about the colors not being good, my daily drive across the mountain yesterday morning looked pretty good. I'm sure the gusty winds today will be knocking much of the leaves down.

Just over the Blue Ridge from us is a fantastic place called Blandy Farm, also known as the Virgina State Arboretum. It's a beautiful 700 acre farm dedicated to trees and native plants and now leaving no child inside.

More here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Schools, Playgrounds, and Budgets


So, the studies have said things like this for years now.

And this is how some school systems react.

Of course, I'm not telling the whole story.

Playgrounds that are allowed to deteriorate do pose a safety hazard. Administrators must act.

But why not consider playground infrastructure for kids as important as other curricular budget lines? Often times the answer to that is budget. So communities try to come together, like the one in the article, to raise funds so their children can play.

Tick this issue off as one more that illustrates the crisis our public schools face today. We need to invest in the future they tell us. Our kids are our future, right?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kids and Birds


I worked at Cape May NWR for a month and had a blast. Lots of birds, some untouched beachfront, and an old growth white cedar forest. The impact of birding on that part of Jersey cannot be understated.

Here's more on kids and Birds and Cape May.

They even have a youth World Series of Birding Competition.

And, while I don't know who "Snowy Owl" is, here's 30 great reasons to go birding.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Maine Hunt

As a kid, I was fortunate enough to have a father who brought me up in the forests, and on the lakes and rivers of Katahdin Country. We fished, hunted, and trapped together throughout my youth. Every year after the annual hunter’s breakfast at the VFW, opening day found us in the woods for a day-long hunt. During those days afield my father took the time to teach me about firearms safety, reading sign, compass use, and the features of the country we were hunting in.

Read here.

Sense of Wonder


They're talking about The Sense of Wonder over at the Rachel Carson Centennial Blog.

I have two copies of The Sense of Wonder. One I bought some years ago for my personal collection while the second, the older of the two but newer on my bookshelf, was gifted to me by a friend. A naturalist and infamous collector, he makes it a point to seek out and buy every copy he can find of the older 1965 edition for one key reason: it has more pictures of kids.

Check it out here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Different Viewpoint on Louv

This essay by Michael Vandeman has been floating around the blogosphere. It gives a counterpoint to some of what Rich Louv says about Nature Deficit and future support of the natural world.
But what strikes me most about this book is how Louv is able, in spite of 310 pages of text, to completely ignore the two most obvious problems with his thesis: (1) We want and need to have contact with other species, but neither we nor Louv bother to ask whether they want to have contact with us! In fact, most species of wildlife obviously do not like having humans around, and can thrive only if we leave them alone! Or they are able tolerate our presence, but only within certain limits. (2) We and Louv never ask what type of contact is appropriate! He includes fishing, hunting, building “forts”, farming, ranching, and all other manner of recreation. Clearly, not all contact with nature leads to someone becoming an advocate and protector of wildlife. While one kid may see a beautiful area and decide to protect it, what’s to stop another from seeing it and thinking of it as a great place to build a house or create a ski resort? Developers and industrialists must come from somewhere, and they no doubt played in the woods with the future environmentalists!

Vandeman's intentions are noble, but he tends to leave out other issues at hand, such as the growing differences in generational thinking about the world and our place in it. I still believe that Rich Louv's message is relevant and clear. Read his essay and see what you think.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ramblings on Skiing

The past few days it has finally started to smell like and feel like Fall in the Virginia Piedmont. Not a moment to soon, after our long drought and unyielding hot weather. With Fall comes thoughts of the winter, and since I was a kid, that means skiing. The gear is pulled out, bases prepared and edges sharpened, and the first pilgrimage to the local ski shop to see what is new.

Skiing was a big deal for me when I was a kid, and it has continued to be a favored activity, including working the business for four years. The interest continued with my daughter, who started to ski at five, and loves skiing today as a high schooler. This is in a place where snow is scarce and only through the skill of men with snow guns can we even get some turns in. They really do get the snow out. Only problem is it's all downhill around here, as nordic skiing needs the natural snow, only available in a reliable fashion 3 hours west of here.

Skiing has seen a huge decrease in participation in the past couple of decades, 23 percent drop by one report I've read. This has been somewhat offset by a huge increase in snowboarding, which is keeping folks, mostly kids, on the slopes in pretty large numbers.

I plan on connecting with the mountains, with my daughter, as soon as we can, and thinking snow is the first step to accomplishing that.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Family Fitness

Cool post.
I’m here to help you make the time you most definitely need to stay fit and help your children understand the value of exercise as an integral part of our daily lives.

Excuse #1: you don’t have time because you are driving your child from one practice facility to another…..the good news is that you actually do have the time mom and dad! There are many venues for adults to work out during the day or night, between or even during your child’s practices. You can walk, jog, lift weights, play squash, raquet ball, tennis, yoga, pilates, martial arts, swim, aquasize, and many many more options.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Spending Time Unplugged


Ventura County Star reports about unplugging.

"I think they need to use their imaginations," Tamar said of Milai and his siblings, Deacon, 7, and Erskine, 4. "I think my older son is losing sight of his creativity the more he watches TV or sits in front of the computer. He also gets grumpier."

So, every Sunday after church, the screens in the house go dark and it's time for free play. The kids can ocean surf, ride bikes, build Lego empires with the neighbor kids or dream up new games, as long as it's real, unprocessed, unplugged playtime."


The National Institute for Play has more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

More blog posts

See here.

Above the wooden "No Swimming" sign, a bright red sign warns: "Violators subject to $100 fine. And/Or 15 days in Jail." That sign has been there, at the side of Pretty Colour Lake for as long as I can remember. We've always treated it as a joke.

Book

Seems that with our current state of world affairs and nature deficit disorder, this blog post about the book Miracles on Maple Hill is relevant today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Column

Long day today. Here's a column to allow some focus on what really counts.

I went to the woods because I felt free. There were no restrictions on what I did. There wasn’t anybody to tell me no. There were no signs ordering me to stay on the path, keep off the grass. There was no path, just trails made by cows in places. There were fences, extending to the river bank. But they were no limits. I climbed each fence when I came to it, then went on.

Monday, November 5, 2007

From Oakland

In June, Chanda Mong, 18, walked into a redwood forest in the Oakland hills and emerged two days later with a new resolve to rise above her crime-plagued life.

"When I go into the woods, I'm more relaxed. I feel safe," Mong said, reflecting on the trip.

"I left there," she added, "wanting to make things different."


more here.

Movie News


Saturday night we screened Summercamp! at the American Conservation Film Festival. Definitely a crowd pleaser, with a long ovation. Check it out when you can.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Intermission

Here's a neat essay from New West, a diversion from the normal fare.

The sound of a large mammal breathing outside the tent interrupted my sleep. It was well after midnight. Snow was falling thick in the high foothills on the eastern slopes of the Mission Mountains. Every now and then a drift would slide from the tent roof with a gentle sound of snow on nylon. I just knew an animal was outside, nosing in the soft powder.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Halloween Thoughts


I know Halloween does not have much to do with Conservation, but what I saw the other night was inspiring, and relevant to this dialogue.

A friend of ours in Town sets up his house every Halloween with a graveyard, and flying ghosts, and magically opening gates, and a gorilla in the shadows. Every year it gets more elaborate. We go every year to watch the fun, and this year, it was an astounding spectacle.

Hundreds and hundreds, if not a thousand kids showed up at the house, most with their parents. It was a mild night, and folks were having a blast, outdoors, their imaginations running full tilt.

Especially fun was the local school assistant head dressed up as a ghoul chasing his eighth grade students with a running chainsaw (sans chain). The guy in the gorilla suit scared a few too. Little kids were subjected to less shocking things, and were loving it, outdoors.Older kids were taking turns making the ghosts fly down a long fishline, and other scary tasks, so everyone was had a role and was engaged. It really was something to see.

There was no tv, no computers, no Gameboys, no X-boxes. I suspects at that moment, any one of those kids would have rid themselves of any of those things in exchange for this much fun.

It hit me hard that if we could have activities like this Halloween night once a week, where kids were outside, with their friends and parents, using their imaginations, we would be making some progress.

Friday, November 2, 2007

SCA Event in 08

The Student Conservation Association has been getting kids and young adults outside for 50 years. They're hosting an event next spring that will bring student leaders from across the country together in DC to interact with policy leaders on conservation issues. Great idea.

More here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In the Arboretum

Last year's National Dialogue on Children and Nature included participants from the University of Wisconsin's Arboretum. This incredible place is a legacy of the great ecologist Aldo Leopold, and they have a new program dedicated to connecting kids with nature. Learn about the Earth Partnership for Schools.
Check it out.

3 Rs in Canada

Here's an article from last spring on work in Canada to establish outdoor activity as an integral part of daily school routine.

"You can see the benefits when kids have a chance to run and play," she said. "You need to have that balance of healthy bodies and healthy minds. And the kids know what it's all about and understand they are improving their health this way.

"With any luck, this will become part of how they manage their lives."


My daughter's former school has kids outside running almost every day as a normal part of the daily routine. It is a good thing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Eco America Post

Rich Louv has a new post on the EcoAmerica blog.

Two years after the first publication of Last Child in the Woods, the issue is garnering more media attention than ever. We now have a movement, and again, much credit should go to those who have worked for years to make something like this happen. As the movement continues to grow, so too will public consciousness — and action. The Children & Nature Network has identified and networked over 35 urban regions in the United States and Canada that have launched or are planning to launch campaigns, which some of them call Leave No Child Inside, or variations on that phrase.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Camping in Comfort

We went up to Shenandoah NP the other weekend for a day trip. It was beautiful, with clear blue skies and crisp air. The best weather to camp in the mid Atlantic. All of the campsite were full, which was a good sign.

To get folks primed for camping out in a National Park, or anywhere, see this link to the National Parks Traveler site.

Camping in comfort! Who wouldn't want to? Here, I thought, was a book made for me, one that would provide the hints necessary to have an even more comfortable experience in the great outdoors than what I had grown accustomed to the past four decades.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Natural England

As a follow up to yesterday's post, here's a link to Natural England, which held a conference in the UK last summer to discuss the issue of the outdoors and the connections to public health.

"Dr Bird’s research for ‘Natural Thinking’ found that:

* People’s stress levels fell within minutes of contact with nature.
* Hospital patients with views of nature needed fewer painkillers following operations.
* Elderly people with easy access to nature are much happier with their quality of life.
* Nature aids the part of the brain that controls irritability, helping to reduce violent behaviour.
* Playing in a natural environment improved children’s concentration, self-discipline and their social and mental development, as well as reducing the symptoms of conditions like attention deficit disorder (ADHD)."


We tried to find a copy of the report, no luck yet...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nation of Wimps


Someone recently told me about this article in the UK Daily Mail.

"It was 1926 and his parents were unable to afford the fare for a tram, let alone the cost of a bike and he regularly walked six miles to his favourite fishing haunt without adult supervision.

Fast forward to 2007 and Mr Thomas's eight-year-old great-grandson Edward enjoys none of that freedom.

He is driven the few minutes to school, is taken by car to a safe place to ride his bike and can roam no more than 300 yards from home."



Think about your family history, are there parallels to the map shown? I suspect so. We do let our teenage daughter run a mile of two away from our rural home, but it's not easy to let her go...

Friday, October 26, 2007

FWS News

Check out the excellent new issue of FWS News, themed this time on Children and Nature.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Unplug

Funhogs Yvon Chouinard and Tom Brokaw, speak at Google Zeitgeist about the digital world and the non-use of it.



Note: This is a YouTube video, so it is blocked by some networks, sorry.

Gen Q.

Andrew Sullivan recently pointed out a response to an oped piece in the NY Times earlier this month by Tom Friedman. In that essay, Friedman announces a new demographic--Generation Q, that quietly sits at home online and says very little about the big issues facing the country. The response, in the American Prospect is written by a twenty-something teacher in Brooklyn.

This is a bit off topic, but I think serves as good foundational info about the generational and cultural challenges we all face in tackling the various issues of the day, including connecting kids with nature.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

View from India

"One American professor of environmental studies was quoted as saying “No society that loved its children would create places like the typical suburb or shopping mall” because they result in an “increasingly dysfunctional society absorbed with all things related to economics, growth and the self”. Malls are seriously not good for children thus they are not beneficial for the future of our society. Yet in Bombay they are popping up like worms after a light rain fall on a beautiful green field. If only the birds would come and squeeze the malls out of this city like the worms!"

A Children and Nature essay from India.

More on Abstraction

Monday's SF Gate article is getting around on the blogs.

Yosemite may be nice and all, but Tommy Nguyen of San Francisco would much prefer spending his day in front of a new video game or strolling around the mall with his buddies.


See here, and here.

The article has hit a chord with SF Gate readers. Read their comments here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Protect Them

Another good C&N article from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The wussification of American children is a relatively recent phenomenon, but a very real one. We pamper our kids, over-schedule them, overemphasize fairness in competition (the score ends in a tie ... again!) and keep them indoors too much, to the point that we're doing them a huge disservice. Kids aren't learning how to get hurt, lose, fend for themselves, find their balance and discover minor dangers on their own - all important parts of growing up.


"Parents and children must not be frightened about venturing outside," he told the London Times in a June article. "When children spend time in the great outdoors, getting muddy, getting wet, getting stung by nettles, they learn important lessons - what hurts, what is slippery, what you can trip over or fall from. We need to try to break down the perceived safety barriers to playing outside."


Certainly television had a lot to do with this situation. Health and safety stories, along with an opportunistic serial murder story is the local network affiliate's red meat for their dinner time news shows. Maybe the changing trends of what and how we watch TV will help loosen us up as a culture.

Nature as an Abstraction


This meme needs to be repeated over and over...

"Nature is increasingly an abstraction you watch on a nature channel," said Richard Louv, the author of the book "Last Child in the Woods," an account of how children are slowly disconnecting from the natural world. "That abstract relationship with nature is replacing the kinship with nature that America grew up with."

Read article here.

There's more to being "green" than recycling and watching Animal Planet (no dig intended on either activity, except that they are poor replacements for getting outdoors.)

Connection to nature should be integral to any definition of "green".

Monday, October 22, 2007

Backyard Camping

A great essay in yesterday's Washington Post:

It's unlikely that ours was the first tent pitched here. The hill where our neighborhood sits was once an encampment for Civil War soldiers who rested and spied on the enemy. Their artifacts, entombed in hard Virginia clay, still turn up if you dig deep enough. On this night, we saw the blinking signals of the Washington Monument and a carpet of city lights through the trees. I tried to imagine what they must have seen, framed by pure, brilliant starlight. A black squirrel, a descendant of Canadian immigrants, scolded us from its perch.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

NH Extra


The Old Man before the "Fall"

NH News:

Rich Louv will be on NH Public Radio's The Exchange, Monday October 22 at 9:00 A.M.

Click here to listen.

Plus, check out the NH Children in Nature Site.

Greening Baby?

The Washington Post has an article today describing people with the best intentions greening the way they live. But as with previous reports, while they rightfully tout the need to reduce, reuse, and recycle; they leave out the need to unplug and get the kids outside.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sidetracked on Water

Indulge me. We'll all continue to need water in the future. We've had a vicious drought here in VA this spring and summer. There's a good article in the New York Times on what's happening with water out west. Our kids will either solve this problem, or live with it...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Leaves


Fall is a great time to get out. Here's a guide to where some of the best foliage is (sorry, NYT registration required).

Saw this blog post that has a good activity for craft-minded kids and parents who want to do something outdoors in the fall, worth a look.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Get To Know



The artist Robert Bateman has a website that focuses on a program called Get to Know. Bateman encourages young artists to get outside, and the contest winners are impressive. The activities described on the site are from last spring and summer, but it is worth a visit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Prescribe It

Teton Science Schools is a fantastic institution located in Jackson Hole and they have helped connect kids with nature for years. TSS Executive Director Jack Shea is a member of the Conservation Fund's National Forum on Children and Nature.

There's a good article up today regarding a TSS proposal to connect kids and nature.
“Doctors are writing prescriptions to parents to have their kids spend time outside,” said Jack Shea of the Teton Science School, “…a really weird sounding idea but symptomatic of what we’re facing today.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another Blog Action Post

Found this post from yesterday, another from Blog Action Day.


Butterflies figured prominently throughout growing up. I remember having a butterfly net with me for most of the summers through junior high school. Even in high school, I was keeping live butterflies, mostly smaller species like blues, alive for weeks in small cages, feeding them sugar water. I remember taking a caged American Copper butterfly with us when we went apple picking in southern New Hampshire and marveling at still having the live butterfly in my possession when it snowed that afternoon. How could I have known then that my future career was being played out that day?


I don't know blogger Doug Taron of Chicago, but his experiences parallel mine in several ways. While I didn't collect butterflies, my parents did everything they could to get us outside, camping, skiing, traveling, and exploring. They took us to the first Earth Day in New York City, where I chipped my tooth (still chipped). We visited every state but Alaska. It made a difference for me, and I only wish I could do as well as they did in getting kids outside.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Changing Perceptions of the Environment


I recently was thinking about when I first thought there was a real problem with the changing perceptions our society has with our natural environment. Lots of academic materials have been written on this, but I remember a certain series of incidents that happened a few years back that first drove the issue home to me.

Bear with me as I set up the story:

A few years ago, Mark, Devon and I headed up to one of my favorite places in the world, Gray Knob, which I have written about in the past. It was Washington's Birthday weekend, a traditional time for all us old Knobbers to rendezvous.

As it was winter, we decided to hike Lowe's Path, which was always packed and easy going, even with deep snow. I've hiked up Lowe's probably more than 100 times over the years, and know every turn and rock, so much so that we have many landmarks named on the path. There were three of us on this trip, and we moved well across the lower flats and up the first hill, ending up at the Club House Turn after about 45 minutes. Clubhouse is the traditional first stop for water and a breather before starting up towards the Log Cabin. As we stood there, I should have know that something was up when this group of pilgrims appeared, shuffling up the path in snowshoes, and burdened with giant packs, snow flukes, the whole bit.

The leader of the group, a tall bald guy with brand new Koflach plastic boots a huge pack and a quiver of snow stakes with bright orange ribbon eyed us with some disgust and said:

"Bootin" it huh?"

I had never, in the nearly twenty years of hiking Lowe's in the winter, ever worn snowshoes, and here was this dummy challenging us. Rather than starting something, we moved over and let them pass, only to catch up with them on the final stairs below the Log Cabin as they struggled up the steep stairs, snowshoes scraping on the wooden treads.

I tell this part of the story to comment on the state of outdoor marketing. The outdoor business had been very successful in transforming snowshoeing from a utilitarian task--the snow is too deep to walk over so you use these cool tools called snowshoes, to a sport that people do, regardless of the need to do it.

The rest of the hike up above the Log Cabin, a sustained and steep walk up 1,100 feet, was uneventful. Our snowshoeing friends headed out the Randolph Path towards the Perch as we continued up.

On arrival at the Knob, the place was full, so we headed over to Crag Camp, which had a few folks, but was quiet enough. There was a good six feet of snow on the ground, and it was shaping up to be a clear bright night with a full moon. It was going to be the kind of night that would have us running around above tree line with no lights, the bright moonlight casting shadows on the fresh snow. And that's what we did. By six o'clock the moon was rising and we headed up the Spur Trail to check things out. It was a remarkable hike, and Devon, who had never been up there before, was spellbound. After a few hours of playing in the snow, Mark and I left Devon at Knight's Castle and headed back down and walked onto the porch at Crag. There were several folks on the porch standing and talking about some financial stuff. We nodded and stood there looking at the headwall of King Ravine shimmering in the moonlight.

Then a movement caught my eye, and a Pine Martin scampered out onto the snow in front of us. There must have been a mouse under the snow he was after, and his hunger must have pushed him to show himself. Despite having lived up here for many, many, months over the past couple decades; I had never seen a Pine Martin. It was a real thrill. Funny thing was, the two thirty-somethings next to us kept talking about the stock market. I said to them:

"You guys ever see a Pine Martin? If not, it's standing right there." I pointed. The Pine Martin continued to circle around and dig about in the snow.

They eyed me angrily for interrupting them and went back to their talk, Cisco was up and so and so's IPO could become reality. Who gives a damn about a Pine Martin was the attitude, I guess. It really was astonishing.

The next morning, there they were, dressed in the best technical clothing, and boots, throwing on their packs to hike up the ridge. There was boasting and macho talk. They were going to challenge the mountain. During a rare full moon winter night with minimal wind, they had stood around talking about money instead of hiking around and experiencing this rare environment under the rarest of conditions, and now they were heading up to fight the mountain.

That incident was something of an epiphany for me. Here were people who had hiked up three miles and three thousand feet for completely different motives than my friends and I. They had spent lots of money buying the best gear, but were completely unaware of the natural surroundings, and seemed more interested in the bragging rights that came with the hike than anything else. The sighting of a rare critter had zero impact except for an angry glare. I was discouraged to think that this was the face of the future, where athletic achievement was the motive for climbing and the environment was but a second thought. What would the future state of the environment be with guys like this?

Bob Pyle's term extinction of experience rang loud and clear to me as I walked down Mt. Adams the next day, worried for the future of this place, and wild places everywhere. The people we had encountered up at the Knob were there for completely different reasons than we were.

I guess it's not fair to pick on these guys too much, but between them and the snowshoe guys, but they became poster boys for the new outlook on nature, an outlook down a dead end street. At least they took the time to hike up, unlike the millions hiking the shopping malls every day. Could they not understand that we lived on that mountain because we loved the place and celebrated everyday we could exist in the wild?

Rich Louv's book, which I subsequently read a few years later, only reinforced the feelings I had on the hike down. A disconnect was growing, and by the age of those we had encountered, it had been cooking for some time.

My intent with this rather skeletal piece, is to tell you when I first became aware of the issue of our disconnect with nature. Where we're at now is a hopeful place, with a movement building and awareness of the issue rapidly spreading. I should go back up to the Knob this February with an eye to this issue, and see if anything yet has changed. We can have hope that on that next trip, when a Pine Martin jumps out in the snow, two new guys, decked out in their fancy gear will stop their conversation and try to get a better look into the eyes of the wild. And I still won't use snowshoes on Lowe's Path.

This is my Blog Action Day Environment Post.

Child's Play

This short article ends in a bit of a proprietary way, but the writer makes some great observations and points.

Too often these days we are afraid to allow our children to play outside. There are so many dangers waiting around every corner. Make play groups, get a bunch of kids together and start games with them. Just be close by to make sure no injuries occur. I know as a working parent it is very hard to make sure your kids get out side daily. If neighbors could come together and each take one day a week to encourage the children in your neighborhood to play together. Each parent taking turns on the different days of the week, before long you will have very busy kids, not to mention free time for the separate parents, whose turn it is not.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Role Model in CO

Great column.

A connection with nature and the outdoors is in our genes, and replacing that connection with gadgets such as video games, iPods and cell phones seems to be hurting us more than we think.

That's disturbing enough, but I worry more about the chances that Jayden may one day have to be put on Ritalin.

The outdoors, after all, shaped my life.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Leave No Child Inside

Chicago Wilderness, a great conservation partnership in Chicago, is focusing on a children and nature initiative, Leave No Child Inside.

It’s time to give our kids a break from the TV and the computer and get them back outside! Chicago Wilderness and its more than 200 members invite you to Leave No Child Inside. Together, we can foster a generation of children that care enough for nature to protect it.


Here's a good write up on what they're doing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dirty Hands, Healthy Plants

More schools and day care centers are adding hands on gardening to their programs. Here where I work, our day care center kids planted and nurtured an extraordinary garden. We've also written about the good work being done at the Hill School in Virginia.

Down in Florida, a place called The Village School has a program to get kids involved in gardening, another good model for schools across the country.

“Kids today aren’t in touch with the cycle of nature,” she said. “They don’t know how food is grown. Studies have shown that kids who grow their own vegetables are more likely to eat vegetables.”

Brown said that with childhood obesity becoming more and more prevalent in society, children aren’t living as well as they used to.

About 19 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The dream is that by doing this, we are going to reach more families and get the children healthier, more in tune with the environment and teach them to respect nature,” Brown said."

More here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Teddy



The Teddy Project is not a program that gets kids out on the land directly, but it is an exciting example of engaging college kids in the history of conservation, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and conservation issues today.

Students from the Art Institutes, a system of 31 art schools across the country, work with a National Wildlife Refuge in their area to create a cartoon starring Teddy Roosevelt and Puddles the blue goose. The purpose is to engage kids in the wonders of the Refuge system and encourage them to get out and discover them. Thus far there have been a couple dozen short films made. You can see the newest Teddy Project cartoons at the American Conservation Film Festival in Shepherdstown WV, November 2-4.

The animation is done in different ways, from old fashioned frame by frame to the latest in digital 3D technology.



Check it out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More Kids in the Woods

The US Forest Service's More Kids in the Woods Program provides grant money to get kids out into nature. The AP has a story out today about the Forest Service Chief visiting a school in Harlem to discuss the benefits of nature with the kids.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Talking Points

Here's a great list of talking points on the benefits of getting kids "outside, unplugged, and dirty", from Ypulse.com a website that focuses on Gen Y.

Ypulse got these cites from the fantastic Annotated Bibliographies of Research and Studies, Volumes 1 and 2 (2007) at the Children and Nature Network.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Another Story From Texas

Read this essay.

To today's kids who are addicted to video games, death is a thrust of a sword or a barrage of machine gun fire, accompanied by appropriately dangerous sound effects.
Compare that violent but two-dimensional, sterile death to watching a hawk swoop down to snatch a field mouse in his claws, glide to a safe place and crunch the squealing mouse, devouring it bit by bit.

Grandparents are an excellent resource for getting kids outdoors.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Agritourism


We have written some about the Farm Based Education group out of New England, and now a new term, Agritourism, is coming from farms that open their doors to the public down in Arkansas.


WHY AGRITOURISM ? “The simplest definition of agritourism is anything that brings the buyer to the property,” said Miles Phillips, who oversees nature tourism in Texas. Nature tourism includes not only agritourism but also hunting, fishing and adventure tourism, he said. “There’s a lot of activity in the whole sector,” Phillips said, spurred in part by Richard Louv’s 2005 book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder. Louv wrote that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and the physical and emotional health of children and adults.


Couple of years ago we were in Vermont in the late summer, and there was a sunflower field that had been cut into a maze. My ten year old daughter and her cousins had a blast getting lost in that five acre field.

Pumpkin Hollow
in Arkansas is a similar experience. Also, the Vermont Farm Association has a great website that points to many farms and their events.

Farms and kids are a winning combination.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

REI and Children and Nature

Sally Jewell, the Chief of REI and a member of the National Forum spoke recently in Missoula, Montana.

American children spend much more time in front of a screen of some sort -- watching TV, surfing the internet or playing video games -- than they spend outside.

"That's our competition. That's what we're up against," said Sally Jewell, president and chief executive officer of REI. She was at the University of Montana on Monday to talk about sustainable business at the Harold and Priscilla Gilkey Lecture Series.


The Outdoor Industry has a key role in reconnecting kids to nature, and kudos to REI for taking a leadership role.

Hikin'


Florida is not the place I think of when I think of taking a hike. However, a new program, Trek Ten Trails, will bring kids out on hikes to engage them in nature.

Organizers hope to lure children - and their parents - outside in part by introducing them to geocaching, a high-tech form of treasure hunting. Caches will be hidden along each of the hiking routes, and participants will receive "passport journals" in which to document their activities.

Looks like a good combination of hiking and new technology.

More info here.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Planting Trees


The Arbor Day Foundation and Enterprise Rent a Car have quite an initiative going that could really engage kids, and get them outdoors.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Texas


Rich Louv is getting some press on his appearance the other day at the Shangri-La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center.

See stories here, here, and here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Playing outdoors

I'm not a big fan of paintball, but, this blog post does provide some encouraging words about the writer's son and his love of playing outdoors, even if it's to play paintball.

I've seen our son do wonderful things with paintball. As he maneuvers with experienced veterans in a battalion, he learns strategy and teamwork. He's outside in the fresh air. He's focused, because even a moment of daydreaming can get you painted. He can look to additional role models: real men in camo, not just a geeky guy in a bow tie.

I guess to be honest, when I was ten and spending a lot of my time in the woods, brooks, and hills around my house, my friends and I would have played paintball in a second if it were offered to us.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

NLI 2007


Robin Moore and Nilda Cosco at NC State are leading thinkers in designing natural places for children. Each year their Natural Learning Initiative runs its Design Institute. This year it was held at NCTC. Here's a great summary of the doings at that event, at the NLI website site.

This year the Design Institute was hosted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia, from August 9-11, 2007. The theme this year was "Design for Children IN Nature". For two and a half days, participants learned:

* Why is community design for children and families important?
* What can be done through design to address the lack of contact with nature?
* How can outdoor environments for children and families be better designed?


During the conference participants also experienced an outdoor activity with children where they rediscovered their inner child and learned how to create a magical and imaginative outdoor environment.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Walking




I used to walk to school a lot. It was only a mile or so, not a bad walk. I also would also use my thumb to get a ride when I could, especially when I was late. But that as back at the end of the hitchhiking era, which went away in the late 80's, probably a result of the growth of media and the 24 hour cable news channel, which was always hungry for a good abduction story. Of course, my mother never approved of this style of travel.

Walking is just not a common way for kids to get around today. I see parents waiting for the bus with their kids, and basically nobody walking to schools that I pass on my daily drive to work. Certainly there are a lot of reasons for this, many of which we've talked about here. Seems like just getting kids walking again, when and where possible, would be a good thing.

A recent oped piece in the Texas media suggests that getting more kids walking to school again would be a good thing.

It's time we burst kids' bubble. Their insular, climate-controlled cocoons (house, car, school) could use some fresh air. Doing their daily commute by foot would promote both healthier air and healthier bodies. It would help counter the nature-deficit disorder from which many kids are said to suffer. In short, it's time for students to take to the streets for a worthy cause.

And Coverage in Michigan

The Grand rapids press covers Rich Louv's Children and Nature Network.

"It's very sad when you see children at the Outdoor Discovery Center who are afraid to walk down a path through trees, or who get stressed and start crying because they are not used to being outside," ODC Executive Director Travis Williams said.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

From NC

Joe Miller is an outdoor writer in the Research Triangle in North Carolina, and he recently wrote a good blog post on the Children and Nature issue.

Traffic, OK, traffic does suck. In the '70s, '80s and '90s we built neighborhoods seemingly intent on keeping kids penned in. No sidewalks, too many streets as major thoroughfares. Couple that with lax law enforcement (when was the last time you saw someone slow down in a flashing School Zone?) and there's reason for parental concern. Fortunately, municipalities such as Cary and planned communities such as Meadowmont, Southern Village and Brier Chapel are making neighborhoods bike & pedestrian safe again.
These posts and articles on this topic just keep coming, a good sign.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Kids+Bikes

Keith at Carbon Neutral Journal points out a cool endeavor that could inspire some teens to get into the bike design business.

The Innovate or Die Contest is sponsored by Specialized Bikes and offers a $5,000 prize to the best "unprecedented pedal powered" machine. Contestants post their inventions on You Tube.

I've mentioned iback in the early 70's we were building our own "clunkers" for use on the paths of our local state park, years before "mountain bike" was a term. If we could do it then, today's kids can too.

Bikes, kids,the outdoors, imaginations, and You Tube all connect, who knows what they could come up with?

Friday, September 28, 2007

More on No Child Left Inside Act

Grist has more on the Sarbanes bill, including a brief interview with North American Association for Environmental Education executive director Brian Day.

Getting children outside is very important, but the bill is about much more than that. In essence, what it would do is provide federal dollars to help train teachers in environmental education and help states create and carry out environmental education plans.

What we aim to do is go back to educating the whole child. We believe children need the whole piece: social studies, history, art, music. And they need to know about the natural world so that they can make good decisions as adults and citizens. We want to make sure that high-school graduates are environmentally literate.

National Public Lands Day Tour


Follow the goings on of this year's Voluntour at the National Public Lands Day blog.

Into the Wild



Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild is now a film directed by Sean Penn. It's getting good reviews.

It's the story of a kid who goes to Alaska to live in the wild, kinda like Thoreau. His experience and judgment though, did not match his "back to nature" ambitions.

I always thought the book was interesting, but never could quite could figure out the real motives of Chris McCandless. Here's a link to the original Outside Magazine article from 1993.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Poll

The AP is reporting on a new poll from Stanford's Woods Center on the environment. People want a greener world, and they are not liking what they see today.

People want their leaders to move boldly to help the environment but give them dismal grades for their actions so far, according to a poll released Wednesday that highlighted rampant pessimism on the issue.

Only about one in five voiced approval of how President Bush, Congress and U.S. businesses have been handling the environment. And while decisive majorities said they want strong public and private action, fewer than one in 10 said they had seen such steps in the past year, according to the poll by The Associated Press and Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment.


See the report here.