The amount of time kids spend in nature is a popular topic these days. The bad news is that kids are spending too little time outside, which has negatively affected individual children and had a grave impact on our society as a whole. This week the issue is front and foremost on my mind for a number of reasons. Later today I’ll be attending a conference at the University of Minnesota- Crookston focused on reconnecting children with nature, appropriately titled “Connecting Children and Nature.” The keynote speaker, Cheryl Charles, is one of the co-founders of the Children and Nature Network. The conference will showcase current research, curriculum and ideas. I’m looking forward to delving into this subject a little deeper.
Another reason I’ve been thinking about children and nature is that I’m writing a children’s book on Sigurd Olson. Sigurd’s story is an inspiration for all of us, especially youth. Sig wasn’t complete unless he was out in the wilderness. This motivated him to fight with all he had to protect wild places throughout the United States, but especially in the BWCA. If Sig were alive today he’d have much to say about nature deficit disorder. While that term wasn’t coined during Sig’s time, his writings address nature’s impact on us, especially spiritually. If you haven’t checked out his books, I highly recommend them. His timeless musings ring as true now as when they were written.
And, then finally I’m watching my own kids running in and out of the house during this beautiful fall weather. I see firsthand the effect that spending time outdoors has on them. Their brains consume way more electronics than I’d like. But I am thankful that they are outside as much as they are. We are fortunate to live in a sleepy, small town where they can run and bike as much as they want. Many nights involve a diverse group of neighborhood kids playing football, baseball, tag or a game they made up called pirates. What a positive way to spend their childhood.
So, I’m wondering, how has time spent in outdoors impacted you?
Kristin Eggerling is a board member for Conservation Minnesota Voter Center, the mother of two, and a freelance writer in northwestern Minnesota.