Orion Magazine featured a wonderful article titled “Leave No Child Inside” by Richard Louv in the latest online edition. Louv has written a book called Last Child in the Woodsabout saving our children from “nature-deficit disorder”. According to Louv, “Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience their neighborhoods and the natural world has changed radically. Even as children and teenagers become more aware of global threats to the environment, their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. As one suburban fifth grader put it to me, in what has become the signature epigram of the children-and-nature movement: “I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”
His desire is not at all uncommon. In a typical week, only 6 percent of children ages nine to thirteen play outside on their own. Studies by the National Sporting Goods Association and by American Sports Data, a research firm, show a dramatic decline in the past decade in such outdoor activities as swimming and fishing. Even bike riding is down 31 percent since 1995. In San Diego, according to a survey by the nonprofit Aquatic Adventures, 90 percent of inner-city kids do not know how to swim; 34 percent have never been to the beach. In suburban Fort Collins, Colorado, teachers shake their heads in dismay when they describe the many students who have never been to the mountains visible year-round on the western horizon.
Urban, suburban, and even rural parents cite a number of everyday reasons why their children spend less time in nature than they themselves did, including disappearing access to natural areas, competition from television and computers, dangerous traffic, more homework, and other pressures”
A movement has been born to correct “nature-deficit disorder”. I feel blessed to raise my children in the mountains, where we discover the wonders of nature around us on our daily hikes. Just this week we saw a green tree frog, a dead sparrow hawk, and a trillium making its first spring appearance.