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Finding New Ways for Our Kids to Connect with Nature

Finding New Ways for Our Kids to Connect with Nature
The decision to have a kid is an act of imagining. You imagine a baby, and then the childhood it deserves: a Huck Finn existence in the marshes, frog in hand, alert to wonder.

But then there’s the fact that you live in a city, and when summer comes, you still have to work. So you investigate computer camp, fashion camp, Glee camp – camps that look good on university applications.

All these pursuits are worthy, but it’s been interesting to notice anecdotally that in the past few years, “camp” camp – programs with some variation on kid + nature = fun – is a hot ticket. Where I live, my kids could go canoeing around Toronto Island, or learn about animal tracking and wild edibles at the PINE Project, or explore the ravines at the Evergreen Brickworks.

Since my nine-year-old programs my phone for me, my first response to this surge of environmental offerings is: Go, trees! But I admit to an inborn suspicion of the packaging and selling of the natural world, which is generally free for the taking. I don’t know if I want to see the environment added to the laundry list of hipster parenting trends, like kiddie Camper boots and babies in bars.

The impetus for this shift may be, in part, a 2005 book called Last Child in the Woods, wherein author Richard Louv coined the phrase “nature-deficit disorder.” In fact, NDD is not an actual medical condition but a…
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