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Monday, January 9, 2017

Last Child In The Woods

The book is Last Child In The Woods by Richard Louv. The subtitle is Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Louv has two grown sons. He writes in concluding his book: "I feel a sense of pride and relief that they have grown well, and a deep grief that my years as a parent of young children is over, except in memory. And I am thankful. The time I spent with my children in nature are among my most meaningful memories - and I hope theirs."
I felt very close to those words when I read them. Our two sons grew to manhood in the seventies and eighties. I had grown up a city boy. Yet then, we could bike out to visit our country cousins, played mostly unsupervised with the neighborhood kids in the parks, on a cliff overlooking the city of St. Paul and fished in the Mississippi. Our boys grew up in the rural area of southeastern Minnesota where I taught school. They worked on a neighbors farm in their teens, hunted,  fished, went camping and canoeing in the Boundary Waters Wilderness. These were all combined with success in academics, music, and sports activities.

Our boys trapping muskrats

Our son Tony working  a picked cornfield after football practice.

The reasons why so many of todays children have been divorced from unsupervised play in a natural setting are many. Our own experience in watching children grow up in todays world would reveal many of them. From fear of "strangers" and nature itself, to TV & video games, legal fears, and other social and cultural changes have all contributed to a new world for growing up.

Louv details and cites much of the scientific research that reveals new insights into the positive effects that childrens contact with the natural world can have on their development. This shows up in many ways, including intelligence, self-confidence and creativity. He also provides information on groups ranging from parents, churches, schools and communities that are trying to reverse the tide. Along with this are many concrete suggestions as to what parents can do as well.

I would highly recommend this book. Today children and grandchildren are learning about the Amazon rainforest, gulf oil spills, global warming etc. in school. That's fine. They are likely not to know about the life in a local creek, frogs and trees, birds and even where milk comes from..... It's time to change that.
Here, our granddaughter, a recent kindergarten graduate, is getting a lesson in freshwater invertebrates from her dad.

And with her older brother, got to meet Angel, one of the star eagles, at the National Eagle Center

Within the restructions of big city life they do get to go camping and for hikes in the Arizona deserts &Mountains. There mom and dad are doing their best.


Veronica Wald said...

Both kids look JUST a little concerned that the eagle might suddenly cut loose from her jesses and land on their heads!

Anyway, I couldn't agree more with the premise of Louv's book and have blogged about the importance of my own childhood explorations in Nature as well. See, for example:

Patty said...

Hi Toutbirder,

Thanks for your comment on my blog. You asked about the symptoms of canine mental illness...& I guess they could be almost as diverse as for humans...? But, I did blog about what happened on April 2, 2010 if you can scroll back to that.

My vet told me he had seen it a few times in his long career & that it had typically been with Border Collies & German Shepherd Dogs - breeds that are very sensitive & in tune with "their people".

It was such a painful experience but I wanted to raise awareness...

Far Side of Fifty said...

Well said! I think conversation helps too, often when we are driving around and the grands are with us, I give them The What is growing in that Field? Question. they are getting better! But I doubt any will be farmers. We have one grand who is a hunter. Little by little we can work on getting them outside! :)

Valerie said...

Excellent post. The book is definitely a MUST READ, I guess it's never too late for me to learn just in case I ever get grandchildren to guide.

Out on the prairie said...

I read this a few years back and really enjoyed the discussion. My kids and any that know me all have played hard outdoors, but I have been shocked meeting adults who never have.

Arkansas Patti said...

So glad you and your family are still using Nature as a teacher and guide line. Sadly today if it doesn't come from a glowing screen, kids aren't interested. I will check out his book. Thanks.

likeschocolate said...

Thank you for the reminder that I need to get more outdoors with my children. I grew up outdoors as my step-father loved nature. We were always on a hike somewhere, but I find myself getting to caught up in the daily grind. I need to make it happen for them. have a great week.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

How precious to see pictures of your sons in childhood. I read the book, which makes me feel all smug about having provided my two with a good sound semi hippie childhood. :) They now live in metro Vancouver, where Nature is never far away. They are not only fervent hikers in the surrounding wilderness, they gather wild foods when possible.