As a child growing up in Maryland I can remember my friends along with my brother and I, gathering at my house on the weekend and heading off into the nearby woods where we would be gone all day.
What we did was only limited by our imagination. We might follow animal tracks, pretend to be explorers discovering new territories, hike trails, or even blaze new ones. We built forts and makeshift clubhouses, followed streams, skipped rocks, and caught crawfish and salamander with only a stick, string, and bacon. The ideas were endless and when we would return home our hands were dirty, our feet were wet, and looking back I now realize that these were some of the most memorable moments in my life.
When was the last time you saw a forest in real life, crossed a moving river, caught a fish, or even saw a rabbit? Have you ever cooked a meal in the outdoors, or slept in a tent? For most adults the answer is, when I was a child. For most youth the answer is never, but I have seen it on TV.
Today the notion of going on a hike, fishing, camping, or backpacking is foreign to a growing number of youth in cities and suburbs around the nation. According to Richard Louv author of:
Last Child in the Woods:
Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder
“Nature is increasingly an abstraction you watch on [the] nature channel…, [and] the cumulative effect of withdrawing nature from children’s experiences” is a very serious issue. Recent studies have shown that individuals who get outdoors are healthier, do better in school, have better social skills and self image, and consequently lead more fulfilled lives”.
At the North Texas Outdoor Pursuit Center we have “The Cure for Nature Deficit Disorder”. Our programs are designed to get young adults, youth groups, and corporations back into nature and restore a sense of balance that has been thrown off by the influx of electronic media, video games, and hectic schedules. We feel that allowing individuals to connect with one another in such a setting is the foundation where true teams are built.