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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights

I'm sure everyone has heard of No Child Left Behind... but, have you ever heard the phrase No Child Left Inside? Well, there are organizations out there working together to get children to reconnect with nature. With computers, video games, TV, iPods, busy schedules, fear of predators, etc. there are less children experiencing the outdoors like past generations have.

I came across this other website, whose mission is: To encourage California’s children to participate in outdoor recreational activities and discover their heritage. They even have a Children Outdoor Bill of Rights, which is a list of outdoor activities that each child should have the opportunity to experience by the time they turn 14.

Every child should have the opportunity to:

1. Discover California's Past
2. Splash in the water
3. Play in a safe place
4. Camp under the stars
5. Explore nature
6. Learn to swim
7. Play on a team
8. Follow a trail
9. Catch a fish
10. Celebrate their heritage

As I went down the list, so many fond childhood memories came to mind. I remember long summer days when we'd play outside all day, until the street lights started to come on, and even then we'd have to be coerced back inside. I remember playing baseball games in the middle of the street and playing "capture the flag" late into the night. I remember making mud pies with the petals from the "snowball" flowers in the backyard. I remember helping my Dad plant the garden, and kneeling next to my Mom weeding the flower bed. Kite-flying and making sand candles at the beach are among my favorite memories. There were some things I was "forced" to do for some school project, like rock identification and bird watching... but, now even those things are meaningful.

I know the world is a lot different than it was when I grew up, but I've decided to make a conscious choice to make sure our children have these same experiences in their childhood. I want to be outside with them exploring the world - following the trail of ants to their hive or watching a bee pollinate a flower, or sucking the "honey" out of the honeysuckles, or laying under the stars in mid-August searching for falling stars, or jumping in piles of leaves, or catching snow flakes on our tongues. Such wonder and beauty.

I've been thinking I'd like to add more to the list of Outdoor Bill of Rights. What other things would you add?

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir


Heffalump said...

Build a snowman and a snow fort.
Cook over a campfire, even if its only roasting marshmallows.
See a waterfall up close and in person.
Play outside in the rain.
Build a fort in the back yard.
Grow a garden.

And many, many more...

NW bro said...

Get the kids involved in Scouts and they get all this outdoor adventure and more.