The intention of Skipping Stones is to enrich the experiences of children and adults as they explore the outdoors. In writing this blog, I realized that the lines of what constitutes nature may be blurry. For some, nature is about experiencing true wilderness adventures, hiking trails where landscapes are seldom touched by human hands. For others, the nature experience may be so new that the idea of spending any amount of time outside is an unknown and somewhat scary idea. Wherever you are on your nature journey, there is always opportunity to grow and deepen your experience. Whether it is hiking and camping as a family, or simply growing a potted plant for the first time, nature is complex and inviting, bursting with surprises and possibilities.
Author Scott Sampson, who wrote How to Raise A Wild Child, divides nature into three categories that fall roughly along a continuum: wild, domestic and technological. Wild nature exists, for the most part, outside the influence of human interference. This includes places such as our great National Parks, like Glacier National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but also includes things in our own backyards like robins, hummingbirds and chipmunks. In my opinion, it is in these wild experiences that we ultimately learn our sense of place and gain a greater understanding of who we are as caretakers of the earth.
Domestic nature refers to nature that is under human control. This includes places like parks, gardens, farms and zoos. Home aquariums, pets and houseplants also fall in this category. Although not wild, this type of nature lends itself to many educational and valuable experiences. It brings us into contact with aspects of nature that deepen our connection to the natural world. Both children and adults can gain great enjoyment and therapeutic rewards from domestic nature. A growing number of college students seek relief from stress through pet therapy. Aquariums calm anxious patients in doctor’s waiting rooms. Parks and playgrounds provide places for physical activity and social interaction, while gardens provide abundant sensory input.
While wild and domestic nature involve things that are not human creations, technological nature provides yet another interface for nature interaction. Technological nature is any human fabricated representation of the natural world. It includes not only documentaries, books, paintings and field guides but also phone apps and websites that educate about nature. While technology has a precarious relationship with nature, its influence cannot be dismissed in this day and age. As a nature blogger, I struggle with a love/hate relationship of technology. While I wholeheartedly feel that immersion in natural places like forests and stream-sides is incredibly nurturing to child and adult, alike, I do feel that there is much to learn from books and documentaries, and blogs :-). For instance, this past weekend my family and I ventured to The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to see the National Parks IMAX movie. It was thrilling to see the epic landscapes of our country, I have definitely added Yosemite to my bucket list of places to visit! Besides things involving screens, children’s books abound that help readers escape into outdoor adventures or learn about gardens, animals or forests.
So, the bottom line is that nature can be experienced in a multitude of ways. The real question is not what is nature, but what are you doing to deepen your nature experience? Just as a child matures and expands their zone of exploration to increasing distances, so too can the family expand their nature exploration. How are you taking the next step in bringing more nature into the lives of your family members so they can reap the many benefits that it provides? Skipping Stones will provide you with experiences from finding the best hiking trail, to locating unique playgrounds, to making a craft to decorate your first garden. Stay tuned as I bring you opportunities in all domains of nature so that you can grow stronger kids, families and communities.
Do one thing that sets you on a course toward wild nature - Whether it is checking out some books from the library on backyard birds or taking a more adventurous hike. Make a move toward wildness!
Share your nature experiences on the Skipping Stones Facebook page.
Hi! I'm Ann - mother of seven, grandmother of two and occupational therapist. My mission is to provide the support families need to raise thriving children and to help you build a family environment that supports healthy development and a pathway to success.
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Rain or Shine Mamma
Children & Nature Network
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