Children and Nature Network

Richard Louv’s iconic book “Last Child in the Woods” coined the phrase ‘nature-deficit disorder’ and has been a staple read for many outdoor educators since 2005. Packed with 100 actions to spur individuals into progressing their communities, schools and families and striving to bring young people and the outdoors closer together it’s no wonder that it’s created a movement.

It was only recently that I stumbled across the Children and Nature Network, an organisation chaired by Louv that carries his work further into communities and countries around the world and aiming to empower others with the resources to do so in their own location. This isn’t a website to support the book, but rather a website that came about because of the book.

Now I came across Children and Nature Network because I was looking for articles on kids and the outdoors… it was then that I realised that this was a small goldmine. With a comprehensive library of research papers, presentations, book reviews, videos and resources for parents/leaders/teachers it’s a space that I could easily get lost in.

Since writing Last Child in the Woods, it’s interesting to look at the growth of the movement. In the US and Canada alone there are almost 1900 organisations (at the time of publishing) that have aligned themselves with the Children and Nature Network including schools, outdoor providers, lobby groups, and other initiatives. By comparison in Australia and New Zealand there are 16. Admittedly, many of the resource publications on the Children and Nature Network website are US specific (such as curriculum guides), but the principles from Last Child in the Woods are pretty universal.

Their currently featured research paper “Children and Nature Worldwide: An Exploration of Children’s Experiences of the Outdoors and Nature with Associated Risks and Benefits” cites Australia research (which is nice). This includes a study by Planet Ark citing that almost 6 times more parents played outside as a child than their own kids, and that less that a fifth of today’s kids climb trees. I read this with a little regret as I grew up climbing up (and falling out of) trees as a child.

So with those distressing figures in mind, are you keen to promote the Children and Nature Network in Australia?