LEAVE NO CHILD INSIDE-NATURE DEFICIT DISORDER INITIATIVES
The SEFTC encourages member clubs to create programs in their local area
in conjunction with schools and local youth-oriented organizations which
will encourage kids to explore nature through hiking and biking, thus
attacking the issues of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes which are
rapidly increasing in the USA.
Journalist Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods was one of the
first to identify and articulate well what so many parents, teachers,
conservation leaders and others had been feeling—that our children were
spending an too much time engaged in the wrong activities. Television,
computers, video games, iPods, cell phones and other electronic digital
devices have captured our children’s attention. Add to this the many after
school programs for children’s enrichment and the loss of much school sports
funding and the traditional “recess”, there is little time or opportunity
left for “free time” or unstructured play in nature for our kids. Many kids
today are missing out on the wonderful world of nature. “We must allow
children to experience and love the earth, before we start talking to them
about how the earth needs to be saved.” A child’s first discovery of an ant
or grasshopper can spark their lifelong love of nature. Rachael Carson
wrote, “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any
such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult
who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of
the world we live in.” The fact is that children need to be better educated
in the outdoors, and it should begin early.
The schools, both public and private, have the greatest responsibility for
environmental education because of mandatory attendance. However, the hiking
and trail maintenance clubs are perfectly situated to aid the local schools
in carrying out such programs due to their knowledge of the local trails and
the availability of club members who can help lead outdoor trips with school
SEFTC-associated clubs can give presentations at local schools and youth
groups (Scouts, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, etc.) on outdoor-related topics as
well as lead groups of kids on hiking and backpacking trips. Also member
clubs can encourage the members’ children and grandchildren to join them on
regularly scheduled outings.
Below is a list of several successful programs other like-minded
organizations have carried out to reduce nature deficit disorder in kids.
Look them over and think of ways your own club could help attack this major
issue facing today’s children. Then put together a task force within your
club to address the situation. And remember, today’s kids are tomorrow’s
members of your club.
Web sites very favorable for this Subject: