Family Time in the WoodsMar 31, 2021 ● By Ronica O’Hara
Richard Louv, a prominent nature writer and a co-founder of The Children & Nature Network (C&NN), offers 500 ways for families and communities to connect to the natural world in his book Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life. Here are more wise words.
Be a hummingbird parent. One parent says, “In the range from helicopter to neglect—I probably fall a bit more toward helicopter. In fact, I call myself a hummingbird parent. I tend to stay physically distant to let them explore and problem-solve, but zoom in at moments when safety is an issue (which isn’t very often).” Notice that she isn’t hovering over her kids with nature flash cards. She stands back and makes space for independent nature play—albeit not as free as she experienced as a child; this play is important, nonetheless.
Create or join a family nature club. Nature clubs for families are beginning to catch on across the country; some have membership lists of 400-plus families. The idea is that multiple families meet to go for a hike, garden together or even do stream reclamation. We hear from family nature club leaders that when families get together, the kids tend to play more creatively—with other kids or independently—than during singlefamily outings. C&NN’s Nature Clubs for Families offers a free downloadable guide on how to start your own.
Get the safety information you need. Become familiar with good resources for safety tips in the outdoors, including those with information on how to guard against ticks. Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s cdc.gov. Portland Audubon offers tips on living with a variety of urban wildlife.