When I was little, my family moved to a house in the woods. We were surrounded by nature – trees, water, deer, bears, salamanders and more birds than we could name. My parents took my brother and me hiking even before we could walk. I had my own kayak by the time I was five.
I don’t suffer from nature-deficit disorder. I don’t know what it’s like to live without nature in my life or to not get outdoors enough, but I can imagine it.
I know lots of people, classmates, friends, adults, who have nature-deficit disorder – people who don’t have access to nature and people who have access to nature but don’t take advantage of it. Sometimes I take nature for granted because it is so much a part of who I am. My life would be very different without nature.
Nature has given me things to protect, inspiration to be creative; it’s given me peace and quiet and a great way to stay healthy. It’s given me things to do and questions to ask. What kinds of school projects would I be doing if I didn’t have something to do about our earth, our oceans, our air, and our animals? What kind of person would I be if I didn’t care about these things as much as I do?
What would my passions be and where would my motivation come from? What would I do with my time? Would I be making films about the environment and getting my message out to others if nature wasn’t so important to me?
Nature is a gift. It’s something to be unwrapped and cherished and it makes us feel like we want to give back to it.
I love to share this gift with others because it usually has the same effect on them. I feel like people who haven’t experienced nature have been robbed of a gift and kids have been robbed of part of their childhood.
Nature has something to offer everyone and it’s never too late to get outdoors.
When my Mom was a kid in the city she would leave the house in the morning and get home when it got dark. If that was in the summer time it meant she might not return home until ten o’clock at night. My Dad grew up in a small town and things weren’t much different. He says, “Nobody ever lost an eye.”
But things have changed and parents get scared. My parents are no different but they still want us to have experiences outdoors that we can turn into memories and you can’t beat the price – it’s free!
Nature has given me so many gifts. The least I can do is to let others in on the secret of how getting outdoors can make such a big difference in their lives.
You don’t have to be out in nature every day all the time to get the benefits of the outdoors. Pick one thing to do, start small, and build up to bigger and better and more often. Learn about your yard, your neighborhood, your community, and your world.
Unwrap these gifts slowly like the best presents you ever had. I promise you won’t be disappointed.