In previous posts, I have bemoaned the recent startling transformation in children’s leisure time. A child growing up today is likely to spend 90% less time outdoors than a child born just one generation ago. How can we possibly build sustainable communities if people don’t care about the places they live. And how are we to care if we don’t spend any time experiencing our local natural communities? Robert Michael Pyle has referred to this frightening state of affairs as, “the extinction of experience.”
I grew up playing outside and fascinated by all things nature-oriented. As a parent, I am very conscious of exposing my daughter to the nonhuman world around our home. However, I’ve found that taking her on hikes is not always welcomed. “My legs hurt daddy,” is what I hear after the first half mile—in spite of the fact that she can run around all day long with her friends. So I’ve learned to replace the word “hike” with “adventure,” a tip shared by another frustrated parent. Adults tend to be goal-oriented; when out hiking, this means reaching a particular destination. Kids are more interested in playing. By making the outing more about the moment, and less about the goal, I’ve found it much easier to keep Jade engaged and happy.