Last Child in the Woods
Nature Deficit Disorder: working toward a cure...
A few years ago, at Nixon Park, I noticed a book one of the naturalists was reading: Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv. It begins with a quote by an eight year old boy; "I like to play inside because that's where all the electrical outlets are."
I grew up on ponies, horses, or pretending I was one, or reading about them. There was snow in the winter, which could be shaped into fantastic playmates, or tunneled into, or slid down. It melted in spring into a vernal swamp in the lower pasture, in which Barbie and friends had adventures long before we'd ever heard of Crocodile Hunter. There was a woods behind our property, not quite Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood, but big enough for hawks, mysteries, forts and explorations. When I asked my dad what he did as a kid, he said "ran around in the woods..."
Richard Louv notes this generations' Nature Deficit disorder, offers up scientific evidence for why this may spell the End of the World, and what to do about it. Kick your kid outside, like my Dad's parents did: "go play outside." Unstructured play time in the natural world trains the brain in a different way than soccer or ballet or school or books or...gaaah...video games. It's necessary, it's how we're wired.
Here's a few links to cures...
Header: my photo of the World Famous Saltwater Cowboys driving wild ponies down the streets of Chincoteague Island VA. The (spotty butt) horse on the left is an Appaloosa, aka; App.