In his bestselling book, Last Child In The Woods, Richard Louv poses the question: “What could our lives and our children’s lives be like if our days and nights were as immersed in nature as they are in technology?”
For many children, long gone are the days of digging for worms, playing kick the can, and roaming outside until the sun goes down. The dawn of iPhones, iPads, urban living, and helicopter parenting have systematically plucked children out of the grass and plugged them into electrical outlets!
Louv cleverly named this result of this epidemic of “plugged-in” children Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD). As we discussed earlier, nature provides us with innumerable health benefits so it makes sense that the absence of nature can cause physical and psychological health problems.
According to The Children & Nature Network, “an expanding body of scientific evidence suggests that nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. Research also suggests that the nature-deficit weakens ecological literacy and stewardship of the natural world.”
As parents, teachers and members of the proverbial village that raise the next generation of children, it’s our job to reestablish this connection between children and nature. If you have ever experienced the mesmerized glaze that happens when you place an iPad game in front of a child, then you know that this is easier said than done! Here are a few ideas to help you get your children outside in the dirt and grass this summer.
- Plan a Backyard Campout: You don’t have to travel to a National Park to experience the joys of sleeping outside! A backyard campout can be a great place to start. Pack up your favorite sleeping bag, make a tent out of sheets, and leave all technology inside! For some more fun ideas for planning your campout, checkout the Great American Campout and pledge to sleep outside!
- Create a Summer Scavenger Hunt: Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt! Before your kids get out of school for the summer, sit down and plan out a list of scavenger items to check off the list before school starts in the fall. These scavenger items could be animals to photograph, outdoor experiences (catching a fish, potting a plant, stargazing etc.) or things to learn (how to start a campfire, bug identification, etc.). Maybe there’s even a prize if everything gets checked off the list!
- Dress for Success: Nothing ruins the joys of being outside quite like incessantly itchy bug bites! We created our Mosquitno Bands and Spotz especially for our little ones! They come in fun colors, are super easy to put on, and are non-toxic! Make sure you keep a stash of Mosquitno for your grab on your way out the door!
- Turn Your Backyard into a Safari: Sometimes the most beautiful yards are the most boring if you’re a kid! Bring some life to your backyard with bird and bat houses, bird feeders, and plants that attract wildlife! You’d be amazed how quickly you’ll be added to hummingbirds’ maps with some red flowers and a little sugar water!