Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If My Mother Had Known...

One of the barriers in connecting children with nature today is the perception parents have that we live in a dangerous world where child predators roam the streets looking for victims. While there are instances where child predators do prey on kids, the mass media has made the problem far worse than it really is. I would submit that kids themselves often contribute more to getting into dangerous predicaments than any predator's actions.

Take winter hiking. By the time I was 16 years old, I had been camping in the winter, at subzero temps many times. it was an obvious move in my mind to head up to where it was really cold, NH's Presidential Range. Here I am on the left, on the 5,800+ summit of Mt. Adams, a senior in high school, circa 1978.

We would head up to the mountains, with our -30 down bags and four season tents that we had worked all summer at Caldors to afford. Up we would hike, three miles, three thousand vertical feet to the above treeline winter wonderland on Mt. Adams, with its beautiful vistas, deep snow, and steep trails. Fortunately we really did know what we were doing, but we never had enough adrenline. So the next step was finding something more to do. Why not bring a toboggan? So we started tobogganing on cheap plastic sleds down the steep upper Spur Trail above Crag Camp. We did this for several years, until we were out of college. We would slide that trail all day long, in all weather. The next obvious step for some of my friends was to bring along their Snurfers. A snurfer was a piece of wood, shaped like a waterski, with a cord tied onto the nose that you would hang onto. Keep in mind this was 1976, about the same time Jake Burton was messing around with snurfers. Snowboarding did not exist yet.

This first shot is of a friend snurfing down the side of Sam Adams, a sub peak of Mt. Adams. As I recall this was 1977 and it was 10 below zero. Great snow at those temps.

Here's another shot of my friend Rich snurfing the Spur Trail, just at treeline. The wind was blowing that day and it was cold. He is going fast. Probably taken in 1978. What he could have done with a modern snowboard set up...

We were at home in the mountains, and these experiences, while dangerous to a point, built judgment and leadership skills that helped all of us as we matured. My mother would not have been happy if she had know the details of what we were up to, but she did trust us enough to let us go for it. If any child predators had tried to exploit or hurt us, we would have thrown the creep off the Crag in King Ravine.

These days of rampant parental permissiveness have maybe passed, which is too bad, as it was our parents that gave us the freedom to do these things, which helped build a relationship with natural places that sticks with us today.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Faith Based

The religious community can have a big role in getting kids outside. Here's a good article that discusses just that.
The movement is not about promoting playground visits or organized sports, of which there is no apparent shortage. Instead, it's pushing the idea that time in nature -- even in an urban setting -- can provide crucial physical, psychological and, as religious leaders point out, spiritual benefits.

It's refreshing to see the religious community jumping on board this movement, and they can do much to keep it fueled.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hunting and Fishing

I used to fish a lot. My family would spend a lot of time in the Adirondacks, and we would always set up camp above Brant Lake at a little campground called Hidden Pond. When we were set up at Hidden Pond, for a ten year old, life revolved around fishing, and that was basically all I would do.

I never did get rolling on hunting, but I have always respected friends who hunt, most of whom have done so since they were kids. I'll never refuse a venison dinner.

With the changes in society, hunting and fishing have been declining in popularity. The big issue here revolves around the fact that in order for hunting and fishing to remain sustainable, there needs to be oversight, management, and regulation. Otherwise, after a spell of "anarchy" there are no fish to catch of deer to hunt. How do we pay for this management, regulation, and oversight? With license fees, and if the sports are declining, so do those license fees.
"Hunters and fishermen are the position that drives the conservation engine," said Shane Mahoney, a Canadian biologist and philosopher who has become the point man in a groundswell effort to reintroduce Americans to the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation.

"If you take hunting and fishing out of the equation, the whole (wildlife management) effort collapses."

We've worked with Shane Mahoney at the NCTC, and he is a passionate spokesman for fair chase and hunting. Whether you hunt of fish or not, these sports are a key to the future of our kid's health and the survival of our natural world. If you ever have a chance to hear Shane speak, do anything you can to make it there.

Arizona Central.com has the rest of the story.

The look on a kid's face the first time they catch a fish tells the story. Early interest and experiences are what will turn the tide.

Here's a link to a good program that's working on this issue today.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Extra: News Roundup

Here's a sampling of some Children and Nature news for Friday.

YMCA Camps.

Another group jumps on No Child Left Inside.

Paddle sports get into the act.

An interesting article from Australia.

A good story about a place called the Tom Denny Nature Camp.
As she explains, “I’m a naturalist, and I love getting kids away from electronics: TVs, videogames, and iPods.” She finds that her philosophy is best described by a simple phrase from “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv: “Leave no child inside.” It is her hope that after a week of spending time with their friends, having fun outdoors, kids will come to enjoy being outside. Then perhaps, a few more kids, looking for something to do, will know where to go.

Trip to Pleasant Valley

So, you walk into that big Costco, and the first thing you see are twenty five different LCD and Plasma TVs, each blaring some football game or Tom Cruise action movie. Pretty cool picture, huh, and the future of television. There are folks that stick their new 60 inch plasma tv up on the wall of their media room, where they can sit in a reclining chair with optional cup holder installed and watch movies with 7.1 dolby all day and night long. As time goes forward, this will be a more familiar scene with many kids.

I'm heading up to Connecticut next week for a couple of days, and I'm not going to be interested in big plasma tvs. Instead, I can go one better, and head out to Pleasant Valley and watch a movie, with the windows open and a greasy burger in my hand.

Drive in theaters, once so prevalent are now relics of a by gone age, where we did more things outside. Just as with some summer camps, developers were hungry for the land, and made offers most drive-in owners could not refuse.

Yeah, I know that going to a drive in is not necessarily connecting people with nature, but I believe that getting out to the drive in, breathing the fresh air, smelling the greasy fries and the burgers grilling, and swatting some mosquitoes until you buy your Pick Mosquito coil is connecting with the outdoors, and is a great way to get kids out. While the speakers attached to your window are gone, replaced by FM radio signals, I guarantee a trip to Pleasant Valley will have your kids asking for more trips and you'll swear its 1965 or 1975 again.

So where are these places nowadays? Check out this site, which has a list of drive-ins across the country.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Couch Potato Redux

The Providence Journal did a good nature deficit piece yesterday, A few new barriers were thrown into the mix, this time regarding backcountry travel and the lack of bathrooms.
At the summer camp at the W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich, the adventure backpacking trips into northern New England have been curtailed for lack of interest. "It's hard work and they don't want to go to the bathroom in the woods," says camp manager John Jacques. "A lot of these kids have their own bathrooms at home."

I worked in the Northern Presidentials throughout the eightees, and dealt with many camp groups. These trips are what got many kids interested in backpacking, including myself. I still remember our White Mountain trip in 1973 (Franconia Ridge), as a participant in the Simsbury HS Survival Course, and the fact that black flies go in about 8 o'clock. Outhouses, or worse, were standard then. Now kids don't want to crap in the woods. We got big challenges don't we?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Here's a link to a pdf of the new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This Commentary provides sobering information on major
increases in chronic health conditions, especially obesity,
asthma, and ADHD, among US children and youth, along
with evidence for common pathways to that growth, especially
reflecting fundamental changes in the environments
of growing children.

The article includes references to studies completed over the past 20 years, all indicating and supporting what we already know or suspected.

Youth in the United States spend little time per day
on moderate and vigorous physical activity; physical activity
levels decline markedly through the ages of 10 to 16 years.
Physical environments and community recreational facilities
impact how children use their time and particularly their
likelihood of physical activity. Lack of recreational opportunities,
especially in urban areas, along with increasing parental
anxiety about children’s outdoor play, has limited children’s
opportunities for physical activity. Walking and
bicycling by children have declined, as has the percentage
of high school students enrolled in daily physical education

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What Value, A Camp?

Like farms, summer camps can exist on very valuable real estate. The Boston Globe reports on pressures being placed on summer camp owners by developers to sell, and the willingness for some camp owners, mostly families, not to succumb to big offers of cash. According to the Globe, there is a market to keep the properties as camps, although the preference with many is to keep camps within families rather than a "camp group" that own a number of properties.
For every privately owned camp for sale, there are about 30 potential buyers available who are interested in keeping them as camps, said Jim Earley, owner of New England Camp Realty in Westwood. Early said most owners would rather sell to other camp owners to continue the camp's mission.

I've written in the past about my camp experiences, which were very important to me, and I think they are a key piece of reconnecting kids with nature. We can't allow camps to go the way of the Drive-in theater, an institution decimated by developers (more on drive-ins in the future). Thanks to those families who hold out and stay committed to their summer camps.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Business Leadership

My friend Keith Peters at Carbon Neutral Journal writes today about a statement from the Business Roundtable on climate change.

It would be a great endorsement if the Business Roundtable would make similar statements on the issues and concerns of nature deficit in our kids.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Tech for the Outdoors

The Outdoor Industry is working hard to adapt to a new century and the needs of the Millennials. In a summer 06 edition of Outdoor Gear Trends (no Summer 07 available yet), the question is asked "How are the ipod and other electronic technologies affecting product design?

The winners will be companies that develop technologies in partnership with electronic manufacturers to create better outdoor experiences. Why no a trail runner with an integrated MP 3 player and wireless in-ear headset? In short the industry needs to stop reacting to technology and figure ways to use it to create something new and exciting” __Len Cercone, CerconeBrownCurtis, a PR Firm.

Ipod Friendly gloves from Marmot.

We must all adapt to the society being built by the Millennials, but there are questions that this former outdoor gear buyer has:

I wonder if this new gear will be a significant influence to getting people outside? The Outdoor Industry folks say that sales of entry level goods are flat, while high end gear continues to do well. Are kids buying the hight end gear? Sometimes yes, but I wonder if this situation, where entry level is not growing is sustainable?

What can the industry do to get kids involved? The profile of a millenial does offer excellent opportunities for engagement. But we have to get them outside.

The Washington Post had a story Friday about a new man made whitewater park in western Maryland.

When the pumps are going full-bore, the rapids can reach Class IV, which is defined as having "highly irregular waves, a steep gradient . . . difficult eddies and whirlpools" -- in other words, the kind of challenges craved by serious kayakers and rafters.

While not a natural river environment, this is a neat way to engage millennials and get them outside. I'll be doing some onsite research.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Keep the Woods

Sometimes we need to fight for those places that we remember as kids. The woods adjacent to my house in Connecticut was called Walkers Woods. I played, skied, hiked camped, and biked through these woods as a kid and then as an employee of the owner, the Ethel Walker School. The nordic skiing was especially superb.

A few years ago, this forest, home to a variety of wildlife and birds, including bears, coyotes, bobcats, and nesting goshawks became threatened as the school considered selling it to a developer. The bottom line on this forest is it's the last piece of solid habitat in a town that has seen practically every acre subdivided and developed. This place is an oasis that is necessary for water quality and wildlife, and the sanity of all of us.

In this case, the school partnered with the community, the State, and the Trust for Public Land to devise a way to save the Woods. It's working.

Efforts like this will vanish in the future if we don't work to connect kids with nature. My affinity to the place comes from my early experiences there. Without those experiences that are shared by the many people who have faught for this place, it might just be one more golf course community.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Go Camping

My parents loved to camp, and thus I went camping a lot as a kid. We did several long cross country trips, where we would hit every national park possible. We would cook all of our meals on the Coleman stove, and sit around a fire each night. One of my early memories of camping was in great Smokey Mountain National Park, where each day at dusk the noise of spoons drumming on pots to announce the bears descending on the campground. I remember shining a flashlight on a "bear proof" garbage can, only to see a bear with his head down in the can. As we slept in our little tent trailer, a bear came along and bit through a can of matches that sat on a table only inches through the canvas from my sleeping mother. Imagine her reaction in the morning when she saw the can! It was high adventure for an eight year old, which would have a big influence on my future activities and career.

Every state has campgrounds, and every kid can find adventure in a weekend overnight in the woods. You just have to do it.

Here's an article from the Seattle Times on getting out there.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Junk Food Tastes Good with TV

Seems that a group of food companies, a.k.a. purveyors of junk food, are going to be reducing ads for their foods, to help support efforts to reduce childhood obesity. The LA Times has an article here.

Sounds like a good start, but I wonder if its enough to really put a dent in this problem? Kids need to eat more nutritious food, but they also need to get up off the couch and get outside. I believe that's the key.

There is a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association on this topic. I've ordered it and will report back.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Extra: No Child Left Inside Legislation

Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland introduced legislation last week to get a children and nature component into the No Child Left behind Act.
Mr. Sarbanes, a father of three, said spending time outside is "absolutely critical" to the intellectual, emotional and physical health of children, as well as their self-esteem and sense of responsibility.

See coverage here.

The Assault on Recess

I remember recess at Central School well. Kickball, four square, running, marbles, and more kickball. If the point was to have us blow off steam and excess energy, recess worked every day. We had morning recess, lunch recess, and PE in the afternoon a couple times a week. Being active, whether at recess or in the gymnasium was integral to our day's learning.

But that was before "No Child Left Behind", which has served to reduce recess time in many school systems across the country, as they focus all of their resources and planning to meet the Bush Administration's "pass the test or else" policies.

I'm still looking for some solid research that documents these reductions (it must exist, yes?), although there have been a lot of anecdotal examples out there for the past few years. In 2005 Forbes.com said:
"We've heard examples of where PE [physical education] and recess have been cut back," said Daniel Kaufman, a spokesman for the National Education Association, which represents 2.7 million teachers and support staff. "We're hearing, for example, of schools cutting back on PE and recess in order to make sure they have time to focus on preparing students to take standardized tests."

Parenthood.com also speaks of the changes due to NCLB:
Many school districts blame the national emphasis on high-stakes testing in the public schools for dwindling recess time. The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, in particular, puts pressure on school administrators to have their districts’ standardized test scores improve every year.

“Principals are in a tough situation,” says Tony Harduar, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. These administrators know that kids need exercise, he says, but they also feel the sting of legislation aimed at improving test scores and bolstering basic skills. “A principal’s job can depend on the decision he or she makes,” Harduar says of the recess issue.

So where does this all lead? To what's been called a Nation of Couch Potatoes.

I think instead of NCLB, we need to follow the lead of the Movement and declare No Child Left Inside.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Outdoor Bill of Rights

The California Roundtable on Recreation, Parks, and Tourism has released a Outdoor Bill of Rights that says:

...every child should have the opportunity to:

• Discover California's Past
• Splash in the water
• Play in a safe place
• Camp under the stars
• Explore nature
• Learn to swim
• Play on a team
• Follow a trail
• Catch a fish
• Celebrate their heritage

The Movement continues to grow and expand. Right On.

Link to the document is here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Climate Change and our Kids' Future

We all are aware that climate change will be changing the places we know. I'm from New England, and call that place home. A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists states that the New England Climate could change significantly, devastating traditional sport like skiing and snowmobiling,ending cod fishing on the Georgia Banks, and eliminating such flora as the Sugar Maple.

The New York Times picked this up, as did the Boston Globe, which said quintessential New England was at risk.
Imagine Vermont without maple syrup, Maine with fewer lobsters, and New Hampshire without the brilliant red foliage that enlivens fall mornings. Unthinkable?

Each generation has its significant challenges. It appears that climate change may be our kids'.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

In the Country

The farmhouse has been empty for twenty years except for my visits to do some farming and gardening, some sitting on the porch viewing and walking the fields and forest, at first, with my children and then many times alone. I felt I was as much a part of the land as were the groundhogs that holed up in it and the bob whites that nested on it. I believed, and still do, that mental health and spiritual peace depend on closeness with nature. The move to the farmhouse by my daughter was to allow the boy to grow up in nature to see the birds and rabbits and other animals and to walk the fields and forests as his grandfather and mother had before him.

From an essay in the Huntington, WV News.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Where were my places?

Pine Hill, Stratton Brook, Walker Woods, Town Forest, Onion Mountain, Hedgehog Mountain, the Indian Caves, King Philips Cave, the Jet Path, St. John's Ledges, Alander Mountain, Bear Rock Falls, Race Cliffs, Ragged Mountain, Bear Mountain, The Shawangunks, Mt. Greylock, the Amphibrach, Crag Camp, Gray Knob, Emerald Bluff, the West Branch of the Penobscot, Tuckerman's Ravine, Sky Meadow, Tadma, Woodstock, Lake of Isles SR, Sam Adams, ...the Quay.

by Chris Fithian

Rocky Mountain News has an Op Ed on this:
As kids, we had a dozen destinations within two miles of home, places we'd visit regularly, like the river, the sand pit, Mankins' Grove, the Fox Hole, the jungle, the fort, the trees.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Andrew Sullivan posted this picture this morning that is iconic of the changes in our culture away from the outdoors and Nature. This image is from a slideshow from an article in the New York Times Magazine (been archived by NYT now).

the caption reads:

NAME Lucas Shaw
BORN 1985
CHARACTER TYPE Barbarian berserker

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Update: Some info on EverQuest and its addicting characteristics.
The game is renowned and berated (by some psychologists specializing in computer addiction) for its addictive qualities. Many refer to it half-jokingly as "NeverRest" and "EverCrack" (a reference to crack cocaine). EQ is very time-consuming for many people, and there have been some well-publicized suicides of EverQuest users, such as that of Shawn Woolley. Relationships broken because of obsessive playing resulted in the creation of an online support group called EverQuest Widows and sites like GamerWidow.com. An infamous rant titled "EQ: What You Really Get From An Online Game" appeared on Slashdot in 2002 , and brought this issue of EverQuest addiction to the forefront of many message boards across the Internet.

Summer Reading

Want to learn more about the Children and Nature issue? Here's a sixpack of books for those hot days under the umbrella on the beach or the back lawn.

1. Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations by David Kahn and Stephen Kellert

A good academic anthology.
Children and Nature incorporates research from cognitive science, developmental psychology, ecology, education, environmental studies, evolutionary psychology, political science, primatology, psychiatry, and social psychology. The authors examine the evolutionary significance of nature during childhood; the formation of children’s conceptions, values, and sympathies toward the natural world; how contact with nature affects children’s physical and mental development; and the educational and political consequences of the weakened childhood experience of nature in modern society.

2.The Thunder Tree by Robert Michael Pyle

While Bob Pyle first coined the term "Extinction of Experience" in 1975, he discussed it further in The Thunder Tree published in 1993. Read it.

3. Extreme Kids: How to Connect With Your Children Through Today's Extreme (and Not So Extreme) Outdoor Sports by Scott Graham

Get the Millennials out!

"You want your kids to have character, confidence, and courage, then by God banish Xbox, Nintendo, and Game Boy and take them on an adventure. How? Where? When? The answers are all here. Someone finally distilled the fundamentals - both psychological and practical - of taking kids kayaking and climbing, surfing and skiing, scuba diving and kiteboarding. I wish I had this book 10 years ago."
- Mark Jenkins, columnist for Outside magazine and author of The Hard Way

4. Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth Daniel Glick

OK, so we can't all take our kids on an around the world trip, but see what happens when Glick does just that.

5. Randolph Paths by the Randolph Mountain Club

This guide covers one of the finest mountain path networks anywhere. Some are steep and hard, others easy strolls. And keep it quiet, this place is a secret.

6. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

The Book that started it all.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday Extra

Interesting post at Jonah Lehrer's the Frontal Cortex blog. I'm not trying to get into an evolution spat (even though I support the good science of evolution), rather, Lehrer's comments are interesting when viewed through the Children and Nature lens.
And then I looked at myself, lazing on a couch and complaining about the lack of air-conditioning as I sipped my cold beer. I have absolutely no understanding of the struggle for existence, or just how cruel the selection of the fittest really is. Most Americans live similar lives of luxury. As a result, we don't realize that staying alive (let alone reproducing) is damn hard work. And this leads us to dramatically underestimate the creative powers of natural selection.

So maybe we add to our "barriers" list the fact that many in our population have it so good that understanding even the basic challenges faced by other organisms in nature is beyond them.

Wildlife Camp in Iowa

The University of Iowa has a great camp program, held at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area.
The mission of the camps has changed little. Our ultimate goal as educators is to guide each camper closer to a sound environmental ethic, an informed and conscientious concern for things wild. No matter where the camper is on that path, we hope to guide them towards that goal.

This is a great model for a summer program, and has caught the attention of the press.
Christopher Murphy-Veigelt, 10, is spending this week of his summer at the University of Iowa Wildlife Camp at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area, his second year at the camp.

Murphy-Veigelt admits "this is kind of different" from how he usually spends his time. At home, his outdoor experiences are in the forest near the house, in his hammock or playing badminton.

"I'm a computer nut, but I still like camp," he said.

The efforts of The Conservation Fund and NCTC is also mentioned in the article:
Beginning in 2006, The Conservation Fund, "Last Child in the Woods" author Richard Louv, and the Secretary of the Interior hosted a dialogue on how to reconnect children with nature, involving leaders from public agencies, corporations, the media and health and environmental organizations.

This year, the issue was revisited in a National Forum on Children and Nature. The group of leaders -- including the governors of Montana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and South Carolina -- announced that the forum will invest several million dollars in 20 pilot projects encouraging children to go outside.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Getting Them Outside

My daughter attended The Hill School in Middleburg, Virginia for nine years. Hill has a 130 acre campus in Virginia Hunt Country and has some exciting things going on that bring children closer to nature. I recall simple things that they do, such as the mile run, which students in grades 4-8 run every day, but there's far more than that happening.

The Hill School Arboretum today consists of an apple orchard of antique varieties, a Colonial Native American garden, a butterfly garden, a tree circle where eight common native trees are arranged on the points of the compass, a maturing hedgerow of native species, and the new Cork Tree Garden, which showcases ornamental and prairie grasses. More than 700 trees and shrubs and 2,000 conifer seedlings have been planted during the past six years. The Arboretum enhances the school's curriculum and provides a community resource rich with alternative plant materials and ideas with a sensitivity to the environment, habitat development, species preservation, and natural beauty.

For the past several years, Hill has been working to use nature to enhance learning, build character and responsibly, and foster community. They accomplish this by integrating nature into the entire curriculum, K-8; by working to build a sustainable facilities operation; and by responsible stewardship of the land.

Hill has worked with Stephen Kellert of Yale, and others on this project, and as a Hill Parent, I can say that the work is paying off, and is a model for other independent schools with a land base, and at least partially, other schools as well.

We'll keep track of Hill's progress and report back.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

FWS Prairie Wetland Learning Center

Lots going on at the Prairie Wetland Learning Center in Fergus Falls, MN. They do lots to help connect children with nature. Check 'em out.

Monday, July 9, 2007

But It's Hot Outside...What Can We Do?

Ok, I don't have any data for what I'm going to say, but it is damn hot outside, and it seems hotter on average than it was ten, twenty or thirty years ago. When I moved to Virginia in 1990, we had hot days, but the humidity, as measured by the dewpoint, never seemed to get much higher than a muggy 68 or so. The past few years, that dewpoint number seems to have risen into the low to mid seventies, on a regular basis. For a Virginian like me, What does this higher dewpoint mean? It means it feels like we live in Georgia during the summer, and that for a lot of people, especially kids who grew up in air conditioned spaces, going outside in this weather is not what we do.

The News Journal in Wilmington looks at this issue today.

"Being inside is better, because the air conditioning is better than the heat," said Juliana Panzera, 13, of Wilmington, as she ate a salad at the food court of the Concord Mall.

So there's one more hurdle to getting kids out--the heat.

So, now that I've thrown out the next problem, how do we solve it? One answer that comes to mind right away is the way my friends and I dealt with the heat when I lived in Ct and NH. Waterfalls. Here's a few good ones that I have personally tested:

1) Enders State Forest--The good ole' high school swimming hole. Enders had a smooth rock slide that dumped you into a pool. Great place.

2) Bash Bish Falls, Massachusetts--A great place with a lot of pools. Iremember one place where you could jump 15 feet into a deep clear pool. Of course in today's litigious society, swimming here is probably not allowed. Need to do another field check.

3) The Fallsway, Randolph, NH--probably one of the best waterfall paths anywhere in the Northeast. For more than a mile, follow a mountain brook up into the northern Presidentials, with a waterfall every few hundred yards. Plenty of good swimming to be had. Cold water. Here's some shots by R. Turmelle of one of the falls on the the Fallsway, which I have personally tested in hot weather:

So that's my solution for today...

Waterfalls and swimming holes are pretty common across the country. Because I'm a New England lad, here are some other NE waterfall resources to help you folks in that neck of the woods:

Connecticut Waterfall Site.
Northeast Waterfalls Site.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Op ed

Joe Wynns, a member of the National Forum, pens an Op ed in the Indianapolis Star.
At no other time in history have so many children been so separated from direct experiences in nature. We have radically changed the way we raise our children and altered our attitudes toward nature and the outdoors.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Go To Camp

As a kid I went to Camp Woodstock in CT for five years straight, then moved on to Camp Cherokee, a BSA camp, where we had to cook all of our meals, then onto Camp Tadma as a staff member. Great times outdoors.

As we prepared for the National Dialogue on Children and Nature last summer, we felt it was important to find representation of summer camps, so we sought out The American Camp Association and reps for individual camps, for instance Kingswood Camp in NH.

Here's some camp kids on NH's Mt. Jefferson a few days ago:

The National Dialogue, held in September 2006 in Shepherdstown WV succeeded in connecting Rich Louv to these camp groups, and the Boston Globe has a great article today on how summer camps are becoming more popular again.

Traditional camps may be acquiring a new appeal, as an antidote to the trend described two years ago by writer Richard Louv in his book "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder." The book linked the move to indoor play to other problems, such as childhood obesity and attention deficit disorder, and set off a national movement to reconnect children with nature, known as the "No Child Left Inside" campaign.

The American Camp Association, which accredits and promotes camps, recently announced plans to use Louv's message for recruitment, said Bette Bussel , director of the camp association's New England office in Lexington, Mass.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Live Earth

Big event this weekend.

More here.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

More on Gen Y

Gen Y, or The Millennials, is a demographic group representing people born between 1980 (this year varies by author and researcher, some say 1982) and 2000. They are a very different demographic from Gen X, and they represent an opportunity to learn from their view on the world and apply that knowledge to connecting kids and people with nature.

There are many web resources to learn more about this demographic. Check out this site, written from a human resources perspective.
Gen Y children have been wanted, valued and coddled from birth. They have lived highly structured lives. From their preschool days they have had scheduled playgroup dates, and participated in team sports, music lessons and a wide range of stimulating activities. Parents have micro managed their schedules and remain highly involved in their children’s lives.

Here's a good primer on Gen Y and their links to online culture.
Those born after 1982 are the most media savvy, educated, and wired people to have ever walked the earth. They are also the largest trend-setters since the Baby Boomers.

A recent NPS meeting also looked at Gen Y and why the Park Service should care about this important demographic.

And a bit more background here.

Post July 4th News

Some simple ways to keep healthy, with nature in mind.

The human body needs the touch of nature along with the touch of human skin. Yet too many people have dulled their senses and thus silenced that need. It’s easy to go several months without ever touching the earth, as most of our activities involve walking on pavement as we move from home to car to office to grocery store and back again. When was the last time you sat down on the ground or touched the earth in some way?

And, leave it to folks in Maine to come up with some good ideas to get kids, and adults outside.

Look back at the fond memories of your own childhood and try to recreate some of those same memories with your children and grandchildren.

As a parent or grandparent ask yourself the following:

•Did you ever have a playhouse outside?
•Do your children have a fort in the woods or playhouse?
•When was the last time you camped out in the backyard, looking up at the stars and counting and catching fireflies?
•When was the last time the family went for a hike or spent a day at the beach?
•When was the last time the family went for a boat or canoe ride?
•When was the last time you took your children fishing or hunting?
•When was the last time you went to a seashore beach looking under the seaweed for crabs and periwinkles?
•While walking through the woods, do you turn over rocks and rotten trees to find out what is living underneath?

Simple, healthy activities centered around nature will improve a family’s closeness, increase your children’s appreciation of the outdoors and best of all — it will be fun.

See more in this article by Ken Bailey of the Knoxville County Times.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Life Potatoes

CBS News' Dick Meyer seems to get it with this July 1 commentary.

Now, I have paid close attention over several years to the research about the effects of television, video games and the Internet on children's behavior and their neurological and emotional development. And I can assure you, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the research is conclusive. Find a paper that says video games rot a kid's soul and I'll find one that says they enhance the function of the inferior cerebellar peduncle.

Read his thoughts here.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Retailers bring them outside

REI is doing what they can to get kids outside. REI Chief Sally Jewell is a member of the National Forum on CHildren and Nature, and has been very engaged in the issue.
“Being a kid should include running around outside, riding a bike, climbing trees and exploring the woods, unfortunately today’s youth are spending less time outdoors than any previous generation,” says Sally Jewell, REI president and CEO. “It’s our hope that this program provides a helpful tool for parents to introduce their children to a fun experience in the outdoors – and in the process instill an appreciation of nature.”

Read more about what they are doing, and get some good tips on starting out. here.