I haven’t had time to write about our Labor Day weekend experience yet, but I’m happy to be doing it now. Last weekend we took the kids camping to Clear Creek State Park. For my wife and I as parents, it is very important to get our kids connected with nature and disconnected from the electronic world, even if for only brief while. Our kids do love camping, and this is the third time we’ve went as a family. Kids are not necessarily into the same sort of camping things that us adults are, but I’m happy they had the benefits of getting closer to nature.
So my kids aren’t trilled about hiking and my older one didn’t even want to sit by the campfire. They are interested in discovering and being with nature, but just not in the same way that I am. They don’t want to trek along trail and go for distance. They like to meander, observe, touch, and discover. When we went hiking our hike was like that, relaxed. We got to see some great wildlife like frogs, chipmunks, and fish. I think the best part was when we stopped so that they could throw stones into the river. They were amused for quite some time, and it didn’t involve anything electronic or store bought. We repeated this activity again with great results. To me, this was their meditation, and very therapeutic for them, even if they didn’t realize that was the case.
I’m also happy that they were able to experience freedom, the freedom to ride their scooters around without having to worry about too many cars. The freedom to not have the noise of cars, lawnmowers, and the constant barrage of artificial sounds that surround us daily. The freedom to have days with no schedule and no activity. The freedom to stay at the campground’s playground until they were good and hungry and wanted to go back to the cabin to eat. This kind of freedom is rare for them during the school-year.
Clear Creek also has great educational programs with the park’s naturalist, and the kids got to enjoy activities with her like churning butter, finding and identifying spiders, making a Smokey the bear sandcastle, and learning about beavers. The kids loved these programs, and the park naturalist, Ms. Susanne is an excellent educator. My older one still loves coyotes after a program last year about coyotes.
So for the past week we’ve been back to the rat-race of school, homework, and activities. I am most certainly grateful that my kids were able to create some nature memories, and that we created those memories together as a family. Being outdoors and close to nature is very important for me, and I’m sure it will be for them as they grow older.
Here’s an interesting article from Mind Body Green that has some ideas of how to connect kids with nature.