In the introduction to his award winning book, “Last Child in the Woods,” author Richard Louv remembers the day when his son asked him, “Dad, why was it more fun when you were a kid?”
Now I think it is fair to say that most of our parents tend to romanticize parts of their childhood when they are reminiscing about the good ol’ days, but I’m often inclined to agree. It appears that we have entered an increasingly electronic infused era that is keeping people in, and nature out.
Although awareness of environmental issues is arguably at an all time high (global warming, deforestation, pollution, etc.), I would argue along with Louv that actual physical participation in the environment is at an all time low. Just this week, I was at a park throwing a Frisbee around with a friend when a dad and his son biked up to a bench nearby. The dad quickly introduced himself and asked to join, while his son remained on the bench playing a video game. Impressed by the way the dad could move his massive frame, I asked the boy if he knew his dad could throw a disc like that. He looked up from his screen just long enough to say with a sigh, “He is always doing stuff like this.” Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?
This dramatic departure from the outdoors makes me wonder, “How is all of this impacting our youth?” The illustration below introduces Louv’s research on what he has coined Nature Deficit Disorder.
Now for my shameless but sincere marketing plug. Grand Canyon Whitewater offers an exceptional nature experience for families with young children. Just last week I was working a booth at a farmers market, promoting our trips. Two brothers, around 40, stopped by the booth to talk with me. Turns out they had gone on a family trip with our sister company, Arizona River Runners, more than 30 years ago. I kid you not, they remembered the names of their guides and fellow passengers. They even remembered the names of their favorite rapids and why they were so memorable.
With all that being said, I encourage you to unplug and get out. Whether it is with GCW on a river trip, or in your own backyard, reconnect yourself and your family with the greatest restorative of all – nature.