I just read about a study from Cornell University that suggests “If you want your children to grow up to actively care about the environment, give them plenty of time to play in the “wild” before they’re 11 years old.”
I was lucky enough to spend time every summer at a cottage in northern (no, not the Muskokas – think a couple of hours past North Bay) Ontario where we could explore the water and woods adult-free from a very young age. Maybe that’s got something to do with this…
My family was also lucky enough for 3 months this summer to house-sit for friends who live on an island near Kingston, ON with 120+ acres. The rules were laid down well at the beginning (no going near the outbuildings or any water without an adult) and the boys (3 & 5 years old) were encouraged to get outside and explore on their own. Being city kids who are only allowed to play in the backyard without an adult, this was a hard thing for them to get used to, but we still had lots of interesting adventures, observed plenty of wildlife we’d never known, picked wild raspberries, checked out the moon through the telescope, and much more. And though much of that was with an adult, they’re interested, at least! We’ll try to foster that in the years to come.
Photo © 2010 Lynn Wyminga