What do you think about the amount of time children spend in the “bush”?
Have you made a conscious decision to let your kids get “down and dirty” in the outdoors?
Do you take children camping or hiking or just exploring in “wild places”?
One of the only (maybe the only ) advantages of a long commute to work is the ability to listen to podcasts and Radio National for a couple of hours each day. Every Monday I look forward to the latest “All in the Mind” program presented by Natasha Mitchell on Radio National.
This week’s program had Richard Louv as a guest. Richard is a journalist, author and the Co-founder and Chairman of the Children & Nature Network in the U.S. He is a very impressive character and everything he spoke about is this interview rang true.
What really stuck in my mind was the discussion about the ‘risk adverse” nature of many areas where our children can play and explore.
Have a think about your local school or playground. Many in our area have changed in the last few years to huge plastic and metal structures (with safe rounded edges) , have soft landing mats, no dirt, no mud and nothing interesting for kids to explore (or be placed “at risk”). A colourful yet sterile place.
Where are the “wild places” in the city where children can explore and take risks and have fun away from structure and risk adverseness?
We have been taking our children camping since they were in nappies. National Parks or bush camping areas were our preferred spots. There was minimal infrastructure with basic facilities but a huge untapped mass of nature to explore. The children, often with a crowd of friends, would play games, get wet, make “cubby” huts, explore and get filthy dirty! They had terrific fun, and so did we.
A lot of these issues were discussed on “All in the Mind”. It made very interesting listening (and you can read the full transcript here .)
Richard Louv has written a book about it (of course…) – this is the summary!
Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.
Anyone particularly interested in this topic should also head over to Gwynneth Beasley’s site (an Aussie from Queensland) and check it out. She is passionate about giving “children unstructured time in wild places” (and takes a mean photograph) Recommended.
Do you take your children to wild places?
What is the youngest child you have taken camping, hiking or bushwalking?
What benefit do you think wild places give children (and adults)?
We would love you to tell us about it!