Richard Louv‘s book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder covers a subject near and dear to my heart. That subject is the absence of nature in the lives of people today -what Louv refers to as Nature Deficit Disorder.
In Last Child, he makes a great case for the many benefits of spending time in nature – especially for the young. In reading, I was taken back to countless thousands of hours I spent outdoors growing up – something that is noticeably lacking for youth today.
It was in nature that my friends and I learned so many valuable lessons. When building a dam for a small creek, we discovered the true power of water. We learned building techniques. We learned to work together. We learned about taking tasks and breaking them into their component parts. And that is just building a small dam,
We learned things as we explored. We learned which plants hurt and which plants that could provide relief from burns, itches, bites etc. We learned about animals. We caught tadpoles, toads, frogs, lizards, snakes (and learned which ones were safe and which ones to steer clear of.)
We learned to build fires, to build forts, to create fish traps… all by trial and error. With each mistake, we learned something more about the task and ourselves.
We learned about our environment. We learned about the food chain. We learned the source of all we consume and because we are closer to it, things like recycling are more than just catch phrases. When we create compost, plant our own garden, till the earth, plant the seeds, pick the weeds, and harvest our food – we understand the cycle of food is not just about grabbing something wrapped in plastic at a grocery store.
I could write for hours on the things we learned but there is so much more. In nature, our creativity was the greatest. We were not plugged in doing what a game of TV asked us to do. We created games. We created worlds. We invented.
Louv even makes the case that conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be lessened or cured by reconnecting with nature.
This is an excellent read and makes a case for a huge loss that our civilization is undergoing. I cannot explain how grateful I am to have had a childhood (and adulthood) that keeps me connected with nature and cannot stress enough how it is becoming even more important moving forward.
by Chris Doelle