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LeCastor

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

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My boys get invited out regularly for hikes, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months of Wisconsin. It is surprisingly busy out there this time of year. My boys have yet to take me up on my "adventures" but my daughter took me up on an invite this past week thinking her old man couldn't be having that much fun in the snow. She stood out in the woods and fed the birds peanuts out of her hand. I don't think she'll question me again for a while. It's kinda nice to ID birds that are sitting in trees and feeding on the ground. It's a real rush to ID them when they are sitting on your hand. :)

 

Stosh

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Dear Moderators: I want this thread to be about working with kids in nature. It was never my intention to make this a discussion about evolution: theology vs. science.

I don't want to move this to issues and politics, so let's try to keep this on how to get kids back outside.

 

LeCastor, it seems that the hijack is over....before I could 'flip the switch' on this thread...a good thing.

 

There have been many laments regarding the inactivity of children 'these days'. I guess it really is quite different given the electronic diversions that are available. I don't have a solution to this if it really is a problem. When I was their age most of my peers were not wasting away in front of some computer game. Instead they were wasting away working on a car or some even greater waste of time. For the boys today I offer walks and hikes in the forest and fields, backpacking trips, anything to get them outside, and I create games to try to generate interest in what's out there. Being able to 'name' things is OK but the better stories are about what they DO and how they interact. It helps to be able to collect specimens and put them under a 'scope to see the truly 'hidden' world. But all that depends on boys having a spark of interest in these things to begin with and if that's not something they've learned or experienced in their families, it's a rare case that the spark is innate and I haven't found the secret to causing greater interest in, for example, spore prints, than some stupid facebook 'conversation'.

 

It helps to ban cell phones while out there.

 

Edit: OK, I can't stand it. The book is not all that well-written. I have a suspicion he did it as much for the money as for any other motivation. It doesn't really have many (if any) original ideas but is rather a compendium or, being generous, a synthesis of the works of others...which is fair enough if it presents something that is a bit less of a sermon in the end. It doesn't.

Yes, children need the opportunity for exploration and imagination. They should not be sucked into some two-dimensional screen for their formative years. Is this really something we didn't know already? How many of the ideas of this book did ANY members of these forums not already understand? Really? So to sort of quote one of the negative reviews: 'Put the book away and take the children outside to have a real experience'.

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I think it has less to do with video games, and more to do with the culture of fear we have in our society. When I was a kid, there were indoor distractions too (books, the TV). But our parents allowed and encouraged us to go outside and run around (and even climb trees!). Now unsupervised children are a cause to call the police. The kids are inside playing video games because that is where the parents want them. They are protected from the "dangerous outside world".

 

In my youth during the summer, almost every neighborhood had groups of kids outside playing tag, throwing balls or Frisbees around, roller skating, riding bikes, etc. The local school fields and parks had kids playing on the swings, climbing the monkey bars, playing pickup baseball, etc. Almost all without adult supervision.

 

Today? The neighborhoods are almost ghost towns, the local fields and parks are either empty or it's some sort of scheduled organized activity (with plenty of adult supervision). The monkey bars are gone, and letting your ten year old play outside without an adult escort can get you arrested.

 

If we want to change that, we need to figure out how to fight the culture of fear. I'm really not sure how we can do that. There is a lot of money in selling fear in the media, and attitudes (and laws) appear to be getting worse not better in this regard.

 

Even the BSA is falling victim to the fear. Just look at the guidelines for tool use. They are mostly ridiculous (a 13 year old can't use an electric screwdriver? Or a little red wagon? Or a wood chipper (OK, I guess that one makes sense :) )?). The no-adults patrol camping is out, how long before the no-adults patrol hike is out too? The age for the Whittling Chip keeps going up, soon it will be a boy scouts only thing. How long before walking on a non-paved surface will require helmets and knee pads?

 

And in this environment we want parents to let their kids to go out into nature, explore and have adventures? Sounds dangerous!

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Rick's got it right, people are not avoiding being outside, they are afraid of society which won't let them go. The world we live in has been successfully transformed into the ability to no longer rely on having to be outdoors unless it is to move from one sanctuary to the next. If you find it hard to believe, look at the number of skywalks and malls that have replaced storefronts and sidewalks. Remember, since the 1960's even sidewalks have become obsolete. No one uses them. I used to live right across the street from a school and had a sidewalk that went nowhere that the city required me to shovel even when no one ever used it. Not only are we in constant communication with our children, we even have GPS tracking to keep tabs on them. If the cell phone isn't enough, the under-the-skin chip will work just as well. Growing up I didn't realize a residence could have a security system. I thought they were for jewelry stores only. Street cameras? Even microphone systems in big cities now that can pinpoint the location of gunfire in the neighborhood. Next thing one is going to hear is parents requiring their scout to have a cell phone, have it able to be recharged so that if he is ever lost in the woods they can find him.

 

And so why would any educated parent ever want to let their kids go out side to "blow the stink off" like we did 50 years ago?

 

Since 9-11 we have fully developed a culture of fear. The terrorists have won.

 

Stosh

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LeCastor' date=' it seems that the hijack is over....before I could 'flip the switch' on this thread...a good thing. There have been many laments regarding the inactivity of children 'these days'. I guess it really is quite different given the electronic diversions that are available. I don't have a solution to this if it really is a problem. When I was their age most of my peers were not wasting away in front of some computer game. Instead they were wasting away working on a car or some even greater waste of time. For the boys today I offer walks and hikes in the forest and fields, backpacking trips, anything to get them outside, and I create games to try to generate interest in what's out there. Being able to 'name' things is OK but the better stories are about what they DO and how they interact. It helps to be able to collect specimens and put them under a 'scope to see the truly 'hidden' world. But all that depends on boys having a spark of interest in these things to begin with and if that's not something they've learned or experienced in their families, it's a rare case that the spark is innate and I haven't found the secret to causing greater interest in, for example, spore prints, than some stupid facebook 'conversation'. It helps to ban cell phones while out there. Edit: OK, I can't stand it. The book is not all that well-written. I have a suspicion he did it as much for the money as for any other motivation. It doesn't really have many (if any) original ideas but is rather a compendium or, being generous, a synthesis of the works of others...which is fair enough if it presents something that is a bit less of a sermon in the end. It doesn't. Yes, children need the opportunity for exploration and imagination. They should not be sucked into some two-dimensional screen for their formative years. Is this really something we didn't know already? How many of the ideas of this book did ANY members of these forums not already understand? Really? So to sort of quote one of the negative reviews: 'Put the book away and take the children outside to have a real experience'.[/quote'] Pack, this seems like a strange attack. The point of the book is to assemble different studies to show how society has shifted away from natural play to a culture of fear of injury and lawsuits. Did you see my post about taking a Patrol out into the wild to look for tracks in the snow this weekend? No need to trash the book. It would be more constructive to come up with ways to help keep youth in nature.

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A book may have a laudable objective and still be badly written.

 

I am going to get a copy.

 

(And Stosh, the number of enclosed malls is steadily decreasing.)

 

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Sorry. I guess that might have seemed harsh but it's nothing compared to what I do to journal articles. I thought I had toned it down sufficiently...evidently not. My apologies. To me the way to get them outside and into the forest or field...is to do it. Get them out. Which for me, since this is my field, isn't all that difficult or controversial. Maybe I'm a little too critical of journalists who think they know something.

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A book may have a laudable objective and still be badly written.

 

I am going to get a copy.

 

(And Stosh, the number of enclosed malls is steadily decreasing.)

 

:) Not as fast as the urban downtown sections of open sidewalk store fronts. Small neighborhood strip malls are less costly to build and maintain. Safety comes from not having to travel any great distance to shop. It would seem that for convenience of safety's sake, everyone's world is getting smaller and smaller.

 

 

Stosh

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Sorry. I guess that might have seemed harsh but it's nothing compared to what I do to journal articles. I thought I had toned it down sufficiently...evidently not. My apologies. To me the way to get them outside and into the forest or field...is to do it. Get them out. Which for me' date=' since this is my field, isn't all that difficult or controversial. Maybe I'm a little too critical of journalists who think they know something.[/quote']

 

It's ok, Pack. My blood pressure is back down now. :D

 

Just to be clear, I encourage my Patrols to camp every month and get out and do stuff in nature all the time. But the current guys aren't into it, as I've made clear many times before.

 

As for reading about this kind of thing, I think it's healthy for me, at least, to supplement my training with some outside sources. It's easy to say just "do it" but quite another thing to actually get the Scouts interested if they just aren't.

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" But that same kid soon got lost in the fun of the hike and started searching out tracks and scat. I love when experiments like this work out well! :D

 

I'm one happy Beaver!

 

Thats awesome man! I am happy for you

 

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So, we had a break in the weather this weekend ... which basically meant a few inches of snow instead of mind-numbing cold. So I spent a lot of time shoveling snow/slush before everything re-freezed. In the afternoon I walked a mile to our neighborhood coffee shop. It's a pleasant walk through a sleepy town across a couple of bridges: saw some deer bedded down in the valley, the finches were out, etc ... Anyway, an erstwhile scout in Son #2's class was working at the shop, and when I placed my usual afternoon order (iced coffee), he pointed to the snow outside the window and asked, "Are you sure you want that given the weather?"

 

I assured the young fellow that it was the beverage of choice given the conditions. And I ribbed him that if he had spent more time camping with us, he'd have a better sense of when warm beverages were essential.

 

Sometimes, you just gotta model to young people how they should live ... really live ... and hope that they'll try on their own and think "So, that scouter might have been crazy, but he was also right!"

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Sometimes, you just gotta model to young people how they should live ... really live ... and hope that they'll try on their own and think "So, that scouter might have been crazy, but he was also right!"

 

LOVE THIS. :D

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Thats awesome man! I am happy for you

 

 

Thanks, Jason. It's definitely a good feeling. I was sad that the PL and APL both declined the invitation, though...At least their fellow Patol-mates will tell them all the cool things they did/saw on Saturday!

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I hope they do to. I remember walking into a Meeting with my weekend pack on and yelled to the boys "WHO wants to take a Weekend Hike" I didn't get a one. Most of my boys don't like hiking, they enjoy camping just not hiking. I want to run a Backpacking weekend with them.

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I wouldn't ask them if they want to go on a hike. I'd ask them if they want to go fishing, and by the way, it's a mile from the trail head. As soon as the snow melts ....

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