- BC Games
Get out and play in North Vancouver!
We are born needing to connect with other life, whether this life is a pet, a garden or a forest. Heading outside is healthy for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. American biologist Edward Wilson has called this affinity for other life biophilia. Whatever it’s called, it’s just plain good to get outside, feel the cool breeze on your face, and sit by the water in the middle of the forest. You feel relaxed and connected.
Unfortunately, in this age of stranger- danger and dwindling open spaces, children interact with video screens more than natural places.
There’s a pervasive feeling of worry around outdoor play. Vacant lots are fenced off. Children have very little time for free, unstructured play.
In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv talks about this phenomenon, calling it “nature-deficit disorder.” The journalist interviewed three thousand families about the changing nature of childhood, and what he found inspired him to write a book that explores the need for children to connect with nature. It became a bestseller.
Want to reconnect with nature this year? Try these ideas on for size:
Go on an adventure
It’s so much more exciting than a walk. Whether it’s a trip to a local creek to have a picnic or a trip up one of our local mountains, there are so many places to enjoy on the North Shore. If your kids like to go on a mission, try out letterboxing, a low-tech version of geocaching that involves a treasure hunt with clues. There are many letterboxes hidden around the North Shore.
Enjoy special places together
One of our traditions is to go to a “sit spot,” a quiet place in the forest that we visit several times a week. We go, we sit, and we observe what’s around us. Then we go home. It’s a relaxing time that keeps us connected to the forests around us.
Save time for play. We often deny this to ourselves, and it can feel so difficult to give our children the gift of free time. Give your child tacit permission to play by providing stretches of time that are free from other obligations. Book them into your calendar if you need to. And don’t worry about boredom – it gives kids a chance to be creative.
Send the kids outside
There’s so much scope for adventure in a child’s mind. A small bit of outdoor space will do. A berry bush becomes food for imaginary animals, while needles become a cozy bed. This sort of play is great fodder for the imagination, and it’s good exercise too.
Plant something. Whether it’s in a backyard garden, community garden, or a little patch of deck, taking care of plants is a great way to get kids to care for the ecosystems that sustain us – and it may just get them to eat their veggies too.
If you’re looking for resources for local activities this year, here are a few local places and organizations that can get you some of that eco-connection:
•Discover the temperate rainforest in Lynn Canyon Park with the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre’s programs for kids and their families.
•Jump in the mud with Fresh Air Learning (freshairlearning.org), a forest kindergarten-inspired program for young children
•Become a wildlife tracker at Eagle Awareness School’s (eagleawareness.org) programs for kids and adults
•Go for a stroll, bike or rollerblading adventure through the paved trail in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve
•Enjoy the amazing alpine trails and kids’ programs on Mount Seymour
•Enjoy the lovely view from the top of Grouse Mountain
•Watch the seals at West Vancouver’s Whytecliff Park
•Wander through some of the North Shore’s most accessible old growth trees at Lighthouse Park
—Tricia Edgar loves slugs and is frequently found wearing muddy rain pants. She’s the education coordinator at the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre (dnv.org/ecology) and the founder of Fresh Air Learning (freshairlearning.org), an outdoor program for young children. You can find her at triciaedgar.com.