As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.~ Valerie Andrews, A Passion for this Earth
Our ancestors would be incredulous, and totally amused, to learn that September 24-September 30 marks the annual national celebration of “Take a Child Outside Week.” Kids were supposed live outside – farm kids working in the fields, city kids bouncing a basketball or playing girl games like hop scotch…. Though Pokémon-mania has lured some kids to the outdoors, emphasis there is on the chase and racking up pokes….
The truth is that many or most kids are not instinctively oriented to “experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bell” or “feel the earth quiver”, or “know a hundred different smells….”
Recognizing the “magical capacity of the young,” the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (http://naturalsciences.org) conceived the idea of a designated week. The expressed of goal of Take a Child Outside Week is “to help children develop a better understanding and appreciation of the environment and an enthusiasm for exploring the natural world.”
If you haven’t thought much about intentional exploration of the great outdoors, there are treasures yet to be enjoyed – especially with a child. A quick check of Wikipedia offers some ready points of access to outdoor adventure – some may be closer to home than you realize – most of these offer armchair access via the web: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nature_centers_in_Minnesota
- SEEK: a program of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, suggests some potential resources to guide your outdoor adventures: https://www.seek.state.mn.us/partners
- Saving Kids from ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ – podcast of NPR’s Morning Edition featuring Richard Louv, an early proponent of the Take a Child Outside Week. ; podcast. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4665933
- Richard Louy’s book here: http://www.npr.org/books/titles/138414972/last-child-in-the-woods-saving-our-children-from-nature-deficit-dusirdeder
- Children & Nature Network: http://www.childrenandnature.org/learn/news-center/ or search the online children and nature network library here: https://www.childrenandnature.org/research-library/
- National Wildlife Foundation: http://nwf.org – Several resources including the National Wildlife Foundation Green Hour, numerous articles, a listing of related magazines and media, articles on balancing outside activities with technology, and fast facts about outdoor time with children, including this summary of statistics.
- The Nature Conservancy, specifically this background article:
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson
ANOTHER RESOURCE: National Park Foundation, Out of the Classroom into the Park. https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/out-classroom-and-park