Through the long months at home and the increasing disconnect between the world and our young ones, children are showing a growing desperation for the outside. Living nature has come second to everyday nurture. With the summer coming up, and spring even closer, it's time to prepare activities for the next generation to learn about their earth. School can teach students about what biology means and how it affects them but only real life experiences, real connections, to the land can provide a true bridge between nature and our everyday lives.
The following is a summary of a few outdoor programs geared towards school aged children that helped to inspire scientific curiosity and encourage hands on learning. While I cannot provide a description for all of the great and exciting programs available to our students, I did target the New York area for what might be of interest primarily for our metropolitan kids. Some of these programs are more specific towards marine life or animals, however combining a few of these programs together may provide a well rounded experience in the life sciences for your children. Away Camp: The Nature Place Day Camp Located in Rockland County New York the nature place summer camp offers exclusively outdoor programs. Their summer camp program is 5 weeks long, with several sections throughout the summer, and prides itself for providing smaller class sizes and a fully unplugged experience. Children enrolled int their summer camps can enjoy everything from hiking swimming canoeing and even archery. While their program is primarily focused on nature and getting students connected with the earth they also offer programs in art music drama and dance. They even have chickens on site to bring animals directly to camp go-ers! Find more information here.
NYC Day Camp: Trail blazers Rich in history, Trail Blazers is an award winning youth organization that has been around for over 130 years. This program was pioneered in order to bring city kids back into connections with nature. while they do offer overnight camping they have very popular day camps that explore several parks within NYC. Children as young as three can enjoy working on science experiments doing team building activities exploring nature and creating art. These day programs become very full very fast so look ahead in order to sign up. Year Round NYC Program: Brooklyn Nature Days
While there are many programs that try to offer activities throughout the school year the Brooklyn nature days project makes a point of being sure that children in the New York City area always have nature based activities available for them. Brooklyn nature days believes that all young children have the innate desire to learn and believe that by providing an open, natural, quiet space for children they are able to improve their social and emotional health. They're not a frayed to let children get messy and dirty and encourage them to play an connect with the nature around them. This program requires you to sign up for their classes however you'll find that this exclusivity plays into your favorite as the class sizes are small and intimate and your child can get can be given the fullest attention. Learn more here.
For Adults: The Nature Institute And finally, because we can't let the kids have all the fun, if you have a college age student at home or you personally are interested, the nature institute offers programs for adult learners! Inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Rudolf Steiner, Owen Barfield, and Kurt Goldstein, the nature institute hopes to develop a new way of thinking and perceiving scientific discoveries on nature they argue that being part of nature will bring you closer to understanding the scientific explanations of it. This program strives to move away from a mechanistic view of life and instead cultivate a "wholeness" perspective, by focusing on the big picture of sustainability and how we fit in it. Learn more about the Goethe approach here. I hope this list may be of benefit to some families out there, please let me know if there is anything you would like me to add or update and I will do so accordingly. Connecting children to nature is pivotal to promoting understanding and identifying the value of our connection to Earth. With Climate Change increasing and cities growing, its up to us to educate the next generation of our communities