Kids gone wild
Groups encourage children to experience the natural world
The kids sit in silence facing away from one another in a circle. They feel the hardness of the soil underneath them, see birds flying by, hear the wind rattle through the branches on the tree and smell the pine-scented air.
The school-aged children are outside with the nonprofit Arts of Nature, which offers environmental education through off-trail experiences. They are doing exactly what Richard Louv advocates for in his bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods: directly experiencing nature. That experience is scientifically proved to be essential for physical and emotional health, yet Louv documented how rare it has become for this generation of children.
“I think as a human species we’ve evolved in constant relationship with our natural surroundings,” said Griet Laga, founder of Arts of Nature. “I believe it’s essential to who we are. I believe kids who don’t have regular contact with the outdoors in whatever way they can, miss out. Studies point to that. Kids perform better academically; it’s better for their emotional health and better for their physical health.”
Laga’s program and others in Northern New Mexico are nurturing relationships with nature, keeping kids safe from “nature-deficit disorder,” a term Louv coined to describe indoorbound, technology-focused kids today.
Arts of Nature participants look for stories in the land, identify tracks, taste plants and determine the meaning behind the