No child left inside
For thousands of years (around ten thousand years in North America) humans have been innately tied to nature for survival and spirituality. Food, shelter, fire, water and happiness were all found within the comforting arms of Mother Nature. But … things have changed.
Today, most kids are afraid of nature and lack the skills and knowledge on how to use it. Nature is deemed as something unfamiliar, dirty, and unruly by most children. Tall grass brushing against bare skin feels uncomfortable, child-eating creatures are lurking behind every bush, and a forest feels like a theme park horror house instead of a place to play. Video games offer fun and comfort, where as the forest offers fear and a scolding for getting their new shoes dirty.
What is the consequence of this umbilical cut from Mother Nature? Does it matter that the majority of city kids have never seen more than 3 stars in the sky? Are kids lives affected negatively because they have never held a bullfrog? I say, yes. And science will back me up.
You may have heard of the “No Child Left Inside” movement or about one of the other groups whose mission is to reconnect children to nature. It began with a small group of mothers and has expanded into a nation-wide priority. Today’s children are showing negative signs from this nature disconnect and it’s time we do something about it. Recent research shows that children are presenting physical and mental signs and symptoms from their lack of connection to nature. This deficit is well known as “Environmental Deficit Disorder” or EDD, a term coined by Richard Louve in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods. Without a regular visit in nature, kids are more restless, have decreased concentration, and are unhealthier than ever. Nature offers more than food, water, fire and shelter. It offers wonder, imagination, play, exercise, and tranquility.
In nature, there are no rules on how you should play. Unlike play grounds, puzzles, and video games, the different ways to play with nature are limitless. There are no instructions and the games may never be completed. Nature is the perfect facilitator for a growing mind.
How can you help your child get reconnected to nature? Bring them to it! Be inspired by the fun you had as a kid when playing in the great outdoors. Was there a special area you played in? Where did you see your first tadpole? It doesn’t matter if you travel half a day to get into true wilderness or walk five minutes to visit a small green space and search for bugs. Any connection will do.
Fairmont Hot Springs Resort has also made reconnecting kids to nature a priority. Our kids camps offer a chance for kids to discover the natural world with our naturalist team. Kids can learn about edible plants, how the mountains were formed, and other fascinating aspects of nature. Our team is also on hand to provide information about where to take your kids among the surrounding natural areas.
With a 3,000 acre backyard, Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is an ideal location to rediscover nature with your family. During your family vacation, make it a priority to get your kids out. Once they have a positive experience in nature, they will begin to see natural areas in a new light – a place to play and imagine.
For more information on our kids camps visit www.fairmonthotsprings.com/activities.
For more information on the No Child Left Inside coalition check out www.nclicoalition.org.
- Jocelyn MacGregor, BC Rockies naturalist