Finding the Sound of the Woods
Somewhere between birch and fir trees, with my hand in my father’s, I told him I liked the sound of the woods. It had been on a walk not too far from the cabin he’d built in Maine, and I couldn’t have been more than four years old. I suspect my love for nature started long before that moment, but no matter the when of it, I am thankful. And now, with two young children of my own, I want this for them too. But how do we sow the seeds of love for nature in our children? We can start by interacting with the outdoors, through conservation, and making ethical choices to ensure those opportunities remain possible not just for our kids, but also for generations to come.
Leaning in with Our Senses
The practice of interacting with the outdoors can begin in the forest, anywhere that land meets water, or in your own back yard. Wherever life grows, there are opportunities to lean in with our senses and learn more, whether it be pollen, spores, or insects from centimeters away, or birds and deer from a distance. If you’re uncertain what forested offerings exist in your area, try searching online to see what state parks or Audubon sanctuaries might be nearby. The National Parks Service is another invaluable resource, providing programs like the Junior Rangers and Every Kid Outdoors.
Explore Freely, Get Closer
My family began with taking our kids hiking at local Audubon sites and state forests, rain or shine, often in the early morning. An important factor, in my experience, has been allowing our kids to explore freely, often venturing off the path and having deep moments in one spot at length to make observations, to get closer. Their curiosity is inspirational, a reminder to let go and give myself permission to revive those qualities that tend to become dormant.
Inspiration in Many Forms
For a change from free-range hikes, try building a shelter, looking for animal tracks, or bringing along a scavenger hunt. Guided goals like these can provide a sense of challenge and accomplishment during time outdoors. Appreciation for nature can happen inside the home as well. We love to bring the outdoors into our living room with a documentary scavenger hunt. See what you can find while David Attenborough narrates your journey through a boreal forest or the Amazon. This is a fun way to experience other ecosystems and habitats without even having to leave your own.
Inspiring love of nature in others can come in the form of thoughtfully chosen gifts. When you choose sustainably made toys that are intended to last for years, you are modeling eco-conscious choices. At Our Green House you can find gift baskets for kids that have been carefully curated to give back to causes working to improve the health of our planet. With the Make Your Own tool you can pick and choose from eco-friendly and natural toys for kids of all ages. We all have a Wild Child within us, waiting for a spark.
Who could you inspire?