Friday, November 30, 2007


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


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.


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


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


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.