Recently, REI published a lengthy report titled, "The Path Ahead". In this report, the reader is slapped with proof that kids spend less time outside than prison inmates. Although this news initially strikes us as shocking, I challenge you to think about your own children, or those of a neighbor or friend. Ask yourself:
If you found yourself offering up sub-par answers, know this: You are not alone. This generation of children are losing their sense of wild, thereby earning the title, "The Lost Generation".
But we can do something about it...
Finding ways for youth to reclaim their connection with the outdoors is easier than you think. Thanks to the efforts of organizations and passionate outdoor enthusiasts, there is evidence that kids are getting outdoors more. With growing opportunities to enroll in outdoor preschools, camps, and classes, it is becoming easier for kids to journey back into nature. Government entities are also doing their part to get kids and their families outdoors, educate them, and offer experiences that bring the deep connection of humans and nature back to life.
But even with entities providing opportunities for children and their families, the movement to regain our connection to nature lies within each of us. When we rediscover what it means to spend time outdoors for ourselves, we innately transfer this discovery to our children. When we model enthusiasm for reconnecting with nature, our children adopt - and develop an ownership - of this same mentality.
It's time to join the movement of reclaiming what was once lost - our connection to the outdoors. When we rediscover this essential connection, we will no doubt pass along the value of nature to our current generation of children. And when our children find their own personal relationship with nature, they will be more apt to participate in conservation and appreciation efforts.
As Sir David Attenborough so eloquently stated, "NO ONE will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced."
Let's breathe life back into these lost boys and girls by offering experiences in the outdoors. Let's bring back the wild in our children.