Sunday Snippet: It’s Only Natural!
Fall is beginning to emerge here in Wisconsin with cooler temperatures and green giving way to the brown, gold, yellow and red of Autumn. Seems like a good time to think about how nature impacts all aspects of our lives:
Many of you may be familiar with Richard Louv and his groundbreaking book Last Child in the Woods. He explored what many of us have been seeing, the diminishing role of nature in the lives of our children and ourselves, as well. He recently published a follow-up book entitled The Nature Principle in which he has examined research relevant to nature-deficit disorder as well as interviewed many who have begun addressing this issue.
The rush of technology (particularly video games and the ever-widening internet) paired with the increased concerns for our children’s safety have significantly reduced the amount of time children and youth spend experiencing nature. Children have a decreasing interest in playing outside and parents have increasing concerns about their safety if they do. It is not that either situation is inherently bad, but rather the combination is beginning to show the potential to be toxic (sometimes literally!) for the comprehensive development of our children. Just consider the obesity epidemic among our children and youth and you can see the negative results emerging.
Going outside to play, hike through the woods, ride a bike down a path – all of this requires a certain level of activity in the participant. But there is even a deeper connection according to Mr. Louv. It has been repeatedly shown that outdoor experiences in nature have a profound and immediate effect on our physical and mental health.
Where Last Child in the Woods is designed to grab us by the lapels and make us aware of this looming issue, Richard Louv’s The Nature Principle helps the reader see that solutions are available and provides ways to get our kids and us adults back to enjoying, appreciating and growing in our natural settings.
Well, camp is the the ultimate setting for helping our children and youth experience nature in a fun and exhilarating way. A WeHaKee camper spends nearly all of her time outside each day. Looking at a typical day, a WeHaKee girl is up for roughly 15 hours, and at least 10 of those are outside the doors of any of our buildings! Even if they never take a nature activity while at camp they are immersed in a setting filled with trees, flowers, lakes and rivers. WeHaKee campers receive a ‘natural inoculation’ that helps them stay connected to nature throughout the year until their return once again the next summer.
It’s just another postive and powerful relationship girls develop during their stay on the shores of Hunter Lake!