"Last Child in the Woods" Talked to Me
I heard Richard Louv speak before I read his now watershed book "Last Child In the Woods". Well, that is not really accurate. I had downloaded the book onto my Kindle to read aloud in the car to my family on a 9 hour trip to Joshua Tree. As I started reading aloud I instantly became critical of the tone. At the time, mid 2018, I was in a very different head space than I am now. I was searching for my North Star and although I had written down a personal mission statement for myself I was still skeptical. Did I deserve to follow my passion to get more people outside? Did people really even need help to get outdoors? Could I really make a business out of getting people outside more often? I was outdoors all the time. Obviously the rest of my community, my state, my country knew the importance of time in nature and spent all their free time there. Right? Wrong!
So why was I reading this book that seemed to be waxing nostalgic about "well when I was a kid everything was better, greener, wilder, freer?” I was turned off. I flipped over to a different page and then moved on to reading David Sedaris aloud in the car. He is always a road trip hit for our family.
Fast forward to the spring of 2019. I had just came off Finches March launch. I was in the game now and focused on making Finches Bay Area a booming mainstay nature business. I was in networking and marketing modes and had the chance to attend the Children in Nature Network 2019 Conference in Oakland, CA. So many incredible people and organizations all with the same values and ideas I have: getting kids outside to learn, heal, and grow. I looked around and found my people. Who was a keynote speaker? Co-founder of Children in Nature Network Richard Louv. So I sat there and listened. Mr. Louv was genuine, sincere, articulate, and he had the audience riveted. Why had I stopped reading?
So I got the audio book and played it the next week while on a lone road trip around Colorado. I hung on every word. I listened to chapters again in my motel room at night as I prepped for teaching. I knew I needed a physical copy to mark up. This was concrete information about things I had only guessed, assumed, and intuited. Finally, after some unexpected personal ups and downs and some more books in my arsenal I have my copy of "Last Child in the Woods" at last and my trusty highlighter in hand.
As I scanned the book for important passages and citations to highlight I realized I needed to share this book with other parents, and in fact I felt the same about many others I have been reading. I’ve long since returned from Joshua Tree, and my family is busy with new jobs and schools. Perhaps you feel the same pulls and pushes and would be interested in what I find. We all need to recognize how our own connections to nature have changed over the years and the role outdoor spaces now play in our children's lives. I want you to see the studies and papers that have been and are still being produced that demonstrate how pivotal nature is to our health and continued cognitive and emotional developments.
My plan is to work through a number of books I have read recently on the subject of nature and humans, esp. the kid kind of human. You too will be able to see why we need to prioritize nature in our bustling lives. In doing so you will be prioritizing your children and their well being. Let me be your guide to how we busy parents can make the time and fan the flames of our kids' strength, cognition, independence, and emotional health by playing and learning outdoors. You will see me cite Louv, Florence Williams, Angela J. Hanscom, Dr Qing Li, and others. I hope that you will follow me on this journey of seeing the forest and the trees!