"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

NDD - Nature Deficit Disorder

My mother's day was spent enjoying the beautiful outdoors with my family. I must say I haven't had a day this beautiful in a long, long time. We went here.

As we were walking along a beautiful path, we pondered the loss of nature in our youth. For example, the Boy Scouts now have a Video Game merit badge. They are more interested in bringing along their electronics when they should be out enjoying the great out doors rather than isolating themselves in front of a video game. We can't let our kids out venturing far away for so many reasons - fear of abduction, fear of them getting lost, fear of everything AND then there's the worry about what the neighbors will think when you let the kids out alone!

I miss spending time in the woods. I get almost giddy when I'm there. When I was growing up, I spent many weekends and summer weeks on my grandparent's 120 acre dairy farm in Wisconsin. I would run through the woods, help grandma garden, shoot tin cans off the fence with a bb gun and roll down the haymow ramp. We would make cucumber boats to float in the cow's water tank, climb trees, pick wild berries and sneak off to see where they made maple syrup. Every year, my dad took us camping in the Chequomegon National Forest in North Central Wisconsin. The glaciers moved through there leaving beautiful ridges and valleys. It's breath taking. Just before I became a teenager, my mom and stepdad moved us "out of town" to the lake, where we lived in a new subdevelopment that never quite took off, leaving acres and acres of woodlands, bordering a beautiful lake vacant and undisturbed.

Sadly, I feel we are falling short for our kids. Sure, we have a great yard. It's 1/3 acre and has a play set and a few trees they can climb. We're right next to a nature preserve, but the kids aren't allowed to go there without an adult because the high school kids go down there to smoke and drink. We're on a cul-de-sac with a circle the kids like to play on, but it also has equipment on it for a lift station. So, other than occasional camping, visits to the Arboretum have to suffice.

My husband has read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. I've skimmed it and deeply read a few chapters. However, I don't need any convincing that our children are suffering from NDD - Nature Deficit Disorder. But how do we save them?

We are trying to get our kids access to nature through memberships to the Arboretum, Minnesota Zoo and regular visits to local wildlife areas like the Minnehaha Falls park and Minnesota Valley Nature Preserve. But it never seems like enough. I dream of owning 20 acres, with a house in the middle and running water (lake, stream, river) going through it.

Until that day comes when we can make that big move, we will be doing Nature Studies. Next year, our nature studies will be based on Anna Comstock's book Handbook of Nature Study (the Nature Study Bible, for those in the know). We'll be combining much of our Nature Studies with Art, including field trips, and a little adventure. I'll post the details soon.

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