It’s growing. There’s a movement to get kids and families playing outdoors and connecting to nature.
We know eating healthy is good for us. Do we always do it? No. We know exercise is the key to good health. Are we all faithful to our daily workout regimen? No.
It sounds silly to say: “Kids need to play and learn in nature.” Just like most of us defy the “eat right” and “get exercise” directives, we’re failing our kids when it comes to outdoor time. Children need to play outdoors and they are NOT getting enough of it.
It’s why Richard Louv wrote his landmark book, “The Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder“ and started the Children and Nature Network. It’s why the United States has a No Child Left Inside movement and why lack of play and nature-based activities is becoming a global issue. California, and other states, even created a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights that includes:
- Explore nature
- Splash in the water
- Camp under the stars
- Follow a trail
We are so lucky to have an entity that battles to preserve our childrens’ connections to nature — right in our OC backyard! It’s called Inside the Outdoors (ITO) and it’s administered by the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE). Although the OCDE has a hand in how the program is run, ITO is completely self-supported and receives no funding from the Department of Education. Inside the Outdoors charges a fee for their school programs, but most schools receive scholarships to attend the programs for free. The Inside the Outdoors Foundation raises the funds for the scholarships from:
- and Inside the Outdoors merchandise sales.
Inside the Outdoors (ITO) offers four types of environmental education offerings to accomplish their mission of: Stimulating the boundless wonder children have for the natural world around them.
- Week-long overnight science camps (since 1974)
- Local same-day field trips to ITO sites around the county (since 1980)
- In-classroom Traveling Scientist programming (since 1987)
- Community, family, and after-school offerings (since 2007)
Over 147,000 children per year participate in their programs! Their hands-on approach crosses language barriers and learning styles. Applying science concepts learned in the classroom to real world activities provides unmatched opportunities for kids to really connect to the subject matter.
Inside the Outdoors strives to engage students and help them become Healthier, Happier, Smarter kids and families. The Nature Scene Investigator (NSI) Guidebook has to be one of the coolest tools around to get families out exploring. Families can get the free guidebook a participating Orange County parks, libraries, and REI stores — then they find the clues at local Orange County parks and solve the NSI missions to win prizes!
GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away guidebooks to FIVE lucky families (Yes, I know they are free and encourage you to go out and pick one up for yourself. But, I’ll actually mail them to you at my own expense.) All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Winners will be selected randomly. Comments must be left between November 28th and December 1st, 2010. The book focuses on nature places in Orange County – so you’ll probably want to live nearby to enter.