Enjoying Nature In Our Own “Backyard”

One thing I appreciated from former Vancouver Science World’s president & CEO, Scott D. Sampson’s book, How To Raise A Wild Child, is how he continually emphasized how getting your kids (and yourself) into nature does not require a road trip to a special provincial or national park. We can find nature and immerse ourselves in it by simply going to a “wild” or “semi-wild” (p. 44) place that’s closer to our house than we think. For example, if you have a backyard or patio, plant some flowers or vegetables and involve your kids in that, look for bugs and spiders and talk to your kids about how awesome they are, go for a picnic at the park and enjoy the freshly cut grass and the golden hour sun glimmering through the tender, baby leaves of a Spring tree. Simple as that.

I have to say that I was always in the camp of getting-as-far-away-from-the-city-as-possible-to-experience-nature group, that I’ve forgotten that nature is actually all around us. And in the midst of busy days parenting little children, I can stop, pause, breathe and listen in the comfort of my hammock strung around a Dawn Redwood tree and a beam post from my 4’x6’ back porch. I don’t need to go to Garibaldi Provincial Park and submerge myself in the crystal clear glacial waters to get my dose of green. (Although, of course that is ideal, but not always easy with a giant toddler you have to carry on your back the entire way up the mountain, along with snacks and pee breaks one must accommodate!)

Last weekend, when my stepdaughter had soccer practice nearby the rich, quiet & clean Shaughnessy neighbourhood of Vancouver, my toddler, Luke, and I enjoyed a brief walk (well, he scootered) around some of the residential houses in the area. We saw these beautiful, gigantic trees that were planted in a row along the sidewalk, a bird’s nest, cherry blossom petals decorating a house’s front steps, Spring bulbs like tulips, bluebells and muscari, and a few Eastern Redbuds that reminded me of my time living in Ontario.

If you are an urban-living family, where is your “backyard?” Is it by the ocean, a neighbourhood park, the fountain in the courtyard mall, or your actual backyard (a luxury, for sure!)? If you live in rural areas, what’s your “backyard” like? How do your kids enjoy the big, open spaces? Share below in the comments, I’d love to hear!

Wherever it is though, however big or small, let’s get out there on a consistent basis (daily, weekly, monthly) for however many spare minutes you and your children have and PLAY!

“At its root nature mentoring is matchmaking, helping children fall in love with nature. All youngsters share this built-in bias to bond with nature. But a love for nature must be nurtured, or it will desiccate, disappear, and be forgotten. Children tend to value and care about the things we value and care about. So one of the surest paths to raising a wild child is to rewild your own mind and fall in love again with nature. Schedule time in wild or semi-wild places, even if it’s just hanging out for a picnic in the local park. Make nature a priority, for you and for the children in your life. Slow down and leave time for relaxation and reflection. Make a conscious effort to expand your awareness and comment on the beautiful things you see—clouds, flowers, trees, birds. If you lead by example, the kids will follow.”

— How To Raise A Wild Child: The Art & Science of Falling In Love With Nature by Scott D. Sampson (p. 238)

Isn’t that a great paragraph/quote?!

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Dr. Sampson’s book at your local bookstore or borrow it from the library!



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