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The statistics are sobering: kids today spend on average almost eight hours a day staring at their electronic screens, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation; one in three children is overweight, report the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So what’s a parent to do?
Start A Family Nature Club!
Around the country, more than 100 families have launched nature clubs, in which parents and kids band together to explore the outdoors.
From USA Today, Richard Louv, who started the Children & Nature Network precisely to promote such efforts, explains:
“When it’s just one family, the kids stick close to the parents and whine and complain,” he says. “But the minute several families get together, the kids are off on their own and playing hide-and-seek, independent of the parents.”
Chip Donahue, who started a family nature club in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley three years ago, says “there’s no sibling rivalry when they go outside. They were helping each other climb trees, looking at bugs together. We very quickly realized that outside was where they were happiest.”
Donahue’s group now leads an average of 20 nature outings a year into the Blue Ridge Mountains, with up to 120 participants from around the region. “It really does give them the feeling of being free in nature, with no parents watching you, even though there are 25 parents around,” Donahue says.
Childhood Memories Of Playing Outdoors Until The Streetlights Came On
Whenever I make presentations about my book, Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups To Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future, I always begin by asking parents what they remember about their childhood. The answers (at least for those aged 35 or older) are almost always about playing outside, memories of a favorite outdoors hangout, and not coming home until dusk.
Recognizing that so few of today’s children are enjoying such experiences, parents and caregivers around the United States are forming Nature Clubs, and the kids are finding that the great outdoors is really fun!
Photo from iStock
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