I‘ve been blessed to live in areas surrounded by nature. During my younger days in Wisconsin, I would shoot mice by the creek during winter, pick wild strawberries in late spring, collect bird eggs for our collection during the summer, and pick wild hickory nuts and hazelnuts in the fall. We built new tree houses every summer, and “dined” over our bonfires along the creek. For a kid, it was simply the best.
It didn’t hurt that I grew up in a time when parents could allow their children to spend a day in the woods with complete peace of mind. Safety was never an issue in that innocent time and place. Neither were there Xbox, Nintendo64, or other video gadgets, for that matter. And kids’ lives weren’t so tightly crammed and scheduled as they are these days.
Child advocacy expert Richard Louv, author of the book Last Child in the Woods, has coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe the lack of nature in the lives of kids today. This phenomenon is often associated with many of today’s troubling childhood trends, including obesity, attention disorders, and depression.
I wish everyone—young and old—could have those same opportunities I did as a child. Nature has a way of bringing things into perspective, whether during easy or rough patches. It calms and fills our spirits, and strengthens our bodies.
Whether it’s walking in the forest, strolling along the beach, photographing wildlife, admiring a glorious sunset, gazing at the Milky Way, watching clouds drift across the sky, or beholding brilliant autumn leaves, I encourage you to take the time to participate with nature as often as you can, and take the children and young adults in your life with you. There’s really no substitute for it!
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