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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

GREENing Your Summer Adventures!

Ramona Madhosingh-Hector, Urban Sustainability Agent

Summer is the time of year when many parents send their kids off to camp – it could be an all day camp, a half day camp or an overnight camp. For some parents, camp might be a day or two at grandma’s house but no matter what type of camp you choose for your child, there are a couple of ways you can enhance your child’s connection and concern for the environment.

Lately, there has been much talk about nature deficit disorder – a phrase used to describe the phenomenon that our kids are not getting enough interaction within the natural environment. The term was proposed by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, and has gained much momentum.

How do you find a natural experience for your child? Well, you can start by reading the NY times article “Growing Up Denatured” and taking a survey that assesses your child’s interaction outdoors. If you find that your child is not getting enough outdoor time, plan to visit a park, nature preserve or take a hike where you can interact with the environment. If your child is going to grandma’s, then you can explore a different park or natural area.

Another great way to enhance the natural connection is to sign your child up for a summer camp that includes a “nature element.” Most of these types of camps occur at an environmental education center and some examples include marine summer camp adventures, nature preserve camps or science center camps. Your local library might also offer some camp opportunities. Whichever one you choose, make sure it is a decision that your child is involved in. In Pinellas, you can visit Weedon Island Preserve, Florida Botanical Gardens or choose your own.

You can also ensure that your child is getting a green experience at the camp by asking the camp directors about recycling efforts at the camp, how camp activities will focus on nature, the kind of food it serves and if they are aware of their environmental footprint. Camps that don’t have answers for these questions may not be providing the natural experience you want for your child.

If you can’t get out to a park, overnight camp or a nature based camp, you can spend time reading a book with your child about the environment. Finding a grade level appropriate book is easily accomplished when you visit the green reading list.

If you missed the opportunity to green your summer adventure, you can always incorporate some of these tips in the fall when the season changes. Even then, you are sure to have a great experience with your child exploring and listening to the music of the natural environment.


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