Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why hike No. 2: Commune with nature

As adults, we need the natural world because we are in-complete without it. Kids, children, too, need to get away from the pressures and hectic pace of modern life. Kids these days lead structured lives of schoolwork, soccer practices, music lessons and more; they need an opportunity to escape it with the ones they love, their family members.

Nature can help them relax and relieve stress. The sights of the natural world can raise our spirits, can inspire us as we enjoy refuge from the modern world. Being a very small creature in the wilds or as looking upon some fantastic vista can put your whole life in a broader perspective. Rambling and exploring in nature can enrich children’s lives.

Too many kids suffer from what many hikers and others who appreciate the great outdoors call “nature-deficit disorder.” Experiencing nature is an extremely important part of growing up and maturing, argues Richard Louv in “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” as it inspires imaginative and creative play. Indeed, going into the wilds is like wandering through a living museum, and for some urban kids akin to visiting an alien world.

Hiking also can enrich our lives as adults. Kids notice things in nature that we adults have long taken for granted. A child can reawaken our wonderment of and appreciation for the natural world. The trail is where children learn to enjoy, respect and love nature. Hearing the varied sounds of birds and feeling against one’s cheek the splash of a waterfall builds the compassion that raises our children to become stewards of the natural world. The earlier we expose children to the outdoors, nature, the more they’ll take to it.

Read more about day hiking with children in the guidebook Hikes with Tykes.