This new book by Jason Runkel Sperling presents a guide of fifteen steps to reconnect with nature, taking along your partner, your kids, and your friends.
Until I read this book, I never realized how many of my childhood experiences outdoors were made possible by my parent′s interest and participation. In this time and age, the same unstructured time for play outdoors is very limited for our own children. Besides, in the US, structured institutions, like Boy Scouts, do not offer a solution for parents and children of various ages and genders. This guide will present fifteen short steps you can take for your family to get back to nature in a big way.
As Sperling says: “Children now spend less time in nature than in any previous generation. Their connection with the natural world is being lost, and at the same time we are facing an increase in obesity, physical maladies, and disconnected communities. Companies have mastered the art of selling indoor, screen-based products that diminish children′s outdoor, unstructured nature-play—play that enhances their development and connection. The future leaders—our children—need our help now.”
My father used to take me and all my siblings to far away spots for hikes and mountain climbing . When I joined Boy Scouts (in South America they work as a single organization) I was already savvy and had lots of outdoor experience. I thank him and my mom for allowing us that much free time. We played, we swam, we collected interesting rocks and fossils and we even went hiking to spot cave paintings, all before I was a teenager.
If you want:
• Experiences where the family can take part with friends and parents
• Deep interaction with nature—”not experiences in urban, manicured settings or those that maintained a distance from nature and viewed it like a museum exhibit” as Sperling puts it and,
• A good way to coordinate with a community, and not a series of one-off play dates, where a cancellation would ruin the day…
Then this book is definitely for you. The way to build a family group for consistent nature outings, an easy-to-follow guide to plunge into the habit, that′s what this book is all about. It is strongly connected with the Families in Nature initiative. They describe themselves as a group that seeks: “To connect children and their families to nature and to each other through time spent learning, playing and volunteering outdoors.”
Some steps may seem obvious to those that already have some experience in leading groups for outdoor experiences. However, as a new parent, sometimes organizing something periodical is really a challenge. There are many good tips on this book to lighten the process.
The only thing I didn′t like was the cover. There are so many good pictures inside of the real book, featuring the good times the kids are having (such as the one pictured above), that the cover seems unrelated. It is a minor point in an actually pretty cool idea. (Since I wrote this review the cover was updated, and it definitely looks much better)
Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for review purposes
Featured image by Jason Runkel Sperling