I grew up on a ranch in Colorado and spent my formative years building haystacks to feed the horses, weeding the garden, riding my bike and exploring with my brother. While my experiences in nature as a child were vast and varied, I recognize that my own children aren’t getting that same experience. For some great reading on this topic, pick up Last Child in the Woods or read “The Overprotected Kid,” an article that ran a couple months back in The Atlantic.
Due to our family’s schedule and where we live, I try to make sure my kids get as much exposure to nature as possible. We have a farm in Devon, England, that we try to visit as often as we can. We also go camping as a family, and there’s a lovely simplicity about connecting with your kids in a way you only can when there are no iPads and telephones, but instead endless conversation, laughter and stories. Working together to build the campfire and to fetch the water brings so much connection. It’s one of my absolute favorite things.
At one time, I would run four miles daily down a fire road. I soon realized that I could run the same road everyday but that it would always be different – the trees would look slightly different, and the weather and the people I met were never the same. To me, that’s the true magic of nature. It encourages you to look at life differently and to consider things in the world you wish you could change. Connecting to nature makes us all feel more empathetic and concerned for the greater good.