Share adventures with our future nature stewards

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Share adventures with our future nature stewards

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he [or she] needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”

Rachael Carson, “The Sense of Wonder”

As we look at ways to make a difference in the natural world by season, it’s important to remember the next generation of nature stewards is watching. Children will inherit the opportunity and responsibility of caring for The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and more. Summer is the perfect time to show them how.

Summer is the season of youth. Warm days beckon us into the great outdoors for easy exploration. As a youngster, I spent my summers exploring neighborhood ponds, streams, hills and fields. I went to scout camp and enjoyed camping, hiking, swimming and paddling. My family went on campouts and my dad and brother taught me to fish. Each summer I spent a couple of weeks at my grandparents’ wooded hillside home in New Hampshire. Except for meals and sleeping, summer was spent somewhere outside.

That childhood exposure nurtured in me a curiosity and deep enjoyment of the natural world. Without a doubt, this would not have been possible without the many adults in my young life who guided me. My lifelong excitement and sense of awe in nature has matured into a profound sense of responsibility to make a difference in the natural world.

As an adult, nature writer Richard Louv has helped me put into perspective the importance of connecting children to the outdoors. Louv is founder of the Children & Nature Network and has written extensively on rediscovering nature with three important books: “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Digital Age,” “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” and its companion book “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life.”

I recommend Louv’s book and the Children & Nature Network for folks looking to introduce kids to nature. The website includes resources as well as a handy “tool kit” with examples for exploring and sharing with children the wealth of natural adventures right in your own backyard, neighborhood and community.

Our region is full of accessible and beautiful outdoor locations to explore with children, and we also have organizations offering outdoor summer activities for kids. Led by naturalist educators, these programs are designed to get kids outdoors and active while discovering nature at the same time.

In the northeast Connecticut corner of The Last Green Valley we have well-known camps, such as YMCA’s Camp Woodstock, offering weekly overnight and day camps focused on outdoor activities. We also have 4-H Camps in Pomfret and Franklin. Both offer day camps and overnight camps. These facilities are in beautiful locations full of diverse habitats to experience.

Along with camping excursions with my family, my camp experience included years as a Boy Scout. The Last Green Valley is home to exceptional scout summer camp locations with the June Norcross Boy Scout Reservation in Ashford and Girl Scout Camp Laurel in Lebanon.

For budding naturalists, our region also has nature camps offering daytime, structured outdoor experiential learning for kids. The Connecticut Audubon Society has a variety of weekly programs with their Summer Camp during June, July and August. Programs are geared for various groups starting at age six. Capen Hill Nature Sanctuary in Charlton also provides a day camp focused on nature.

The Last Green Valley also offers monthly Acorn Adventures dedicated to encouraging and helping our young friends explore, share and appreciate plants, animals and new friends in the National Heritage Corridor. Check out our website for more information at:

http://www.thelastgreenvalleyacorns.org/ and don’t forget to check the TLGV Facebook page for information on the Jan. 26 Acorn Adventure in Woodstock about bald eagles.

The future stewards of our region’s natural resources are here with us in our homes, towns and communities. Our role in the daily life of children, as parents, grandparents, friends and citizens of the world, goes beyond their day-to-day needs. It is up to us to be the guiding hand, the encouraging and helpful witness to their exploration of the natural world. It falls to us to raise a new generation of citizens ready to live a nature-filled life. If we do that, we have provided the world with the future stewards it will need.

We live in a beautiful National Heritage Corridor called The Last Green Valley. I hope you’ll join me and so many others as we care for enjoy, and pass on this place we call home.

Bill Reid is chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 35 years. He can be reached at bill@tlgv.org.

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