As it turns out, our kids have what Richard Louv calls a “nature-deficit disorder”—increasingly disconnected from the natural world. There’s a big problem even getting kids outdoors. Oh, they care about the earth in some abstract way, but actually getting them outdoors? That’s the first challenge!
There’s a lot of evidence to support the nature-deficit disorder argument. A Nature Conservancy survey found that 88% of American youth spend time online every day—far more than the 58% who say they do homework or study every day. Yet far fewer do anything outdoors, like hiking, fishing, or even visiting a park. But when youth have a meaningful experience outdoors, they are more likely to value nature and feel empowered to improve the environment.
HERE’S HOW WE DID IT …
Here’s how my wife and I made the outdoors a part of our family life. It began when our son was just five years old and we felt we needed more adventure in our lives. Sailing had been a passion that we put on hold during his infancy and first years. We made a conscious decision to purchase a used sailboat and set sail on the Great Lakes every summer. A part of the decision was more than adventure—we saw, even at his tender age, that he was easily hooked on electronics. Sailing in wilderness waters, anchoring without another boat in sight, fishing, hiking, swimming, camp fires—all became a part of our lives.
And, we’ve had a few harrowing adventures, too! One I recounted on OurValues.org—a time when we were stranded in the Canadian wilderness and a stranger came to our rescue.
HOW ARE YOU DOING IT?
This week, share your pictures and ideas on your favorite social media and use the hash tag we created: #OurKidsEarth
How do you (or did you) get your kids outdoors?
What ideas work for you?
What do your kids love about being outdoors that could help other parents?