Much has been discussed and written in recent years about the increasing disconnect between people and nature, especially as it relates to America’s children. No single writing has done as much to advance the topic than Richard Louv’s 2008 book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Although this multi-generational trend away from spending time outdoors was not a revelation to most, the research which supported the numerous physical and social pathologies which appear to accompany this shift were.
In spite of the increased level of national awareness, we have found that it is one thing to identify the problem, and is quite another to have the social and cultural capacity to correct it. To that end, Richard Louv became a co-founder of the Children & Nature Network (C&N Network) whose mission statement reads, “Children & Nature Network is leading the movement to connect all children, their families and communities to nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, broad-based collaboration and support of grassroots leadership.”
One component of the Children & Nature Network includes an initiative called “Nature Clubs for Families.” This concept was advanced in an effort to provide an alternative for families who may otherwise be challenged to have the time or resources to provide meaningful outdoor experiences for their children.
Although it may sadden each of us that these types of experiences are seemingly no longer provided through traditional same-family structures, the reality is that unless we, as a society, adapt to the accelerating rate of societal and cultural change, the opportunity to reestablish these bonds with nature while they still remain within our DNA may be lost forever.
A review of the national directory of Family Nature Clubs suggests that 144 such clubs have been organized to date, but only three here in Michigan. Since Michigan has always been among the leaders in outdoor education, a significant opportunity would appear to exist not only for the creation of Family Nature Clubs, but also mentoring opportunities for those who possess the talents and skills to assist with the creation of outdoor programs for these clubs.
For those who feel that the content included in the C&N Network website appears to be lacking in youth hunting and fishing content, Richard Louv argues that children must first cultivate the desire for these recreational past-times by first creating a positive outdoor experience and engagement with all of nature. This sentiment is echoed by author and fly fishing expert Tom Rosenbauer as a part of his recent outstanding interview with Richard Louv in his Orvis Fly Fishing Guide podcast (click here to listen).
To get more information on Family Nature Clubs, a free toolkit can be retrieved here : Family Nature Club toolkit2 The national directory of current clubs and their contact information may also be viewed here: (click for directory).