Give kids a little free reign. Let them climb that tree, ford that creek, peer under that log… We must acknowledge that letting kids play in nature—following their own lead with some gentle guidance—will increase the footprint. That boulder 10 feet off the trail will have the vegetation around it trampled. But the one 100 feet away will likely be intact. Where the path crosses the stream, again the vegetation may be impacted 50 feet to either side, but continue upstream another 100 feet and it will be as it should be.
– Ron Swaisgood, “NATURE BULLIES: A conservation biologist’s perspective on children in nature” Field Notes from the Future (May 22, 2012)