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Build Your Own Nature Play Club Snail by Snail

Build Your Own Nature Play Club Snail by Snail

Our Nature Play Club officially launched on Saturday.  I think every family should participate in a Family Nature Club. It’s easy. It’s fun. You should start your own!

Here’s the story of how I started ours:

Inpired by my first online visit to the Children and Nature Network website a year ago in April 2009, I wanted to spread the word.  I wrote a post called Family Nature Clubs: How to Start a Wild Play Group.

The funny thing?  I’d already been talking to Kari Svenneby of Active Kids Club up in Toronto on Twitter since fall of 2008.  I didn’t know she was involved with the Children and Nature Network!  I only recently figured this out. Kari and I never talked about Richard Louv and nature deficit disorder. We just became online friends because we both like to jump in puddles. We bonded because we are parents who actually encourage our kids to get dirty and go barefoot.

So . . . I knew about the clubs.

I was already encouraging my blog readers to play outdoors, probably to the point of annoyance. I already pointed out what families could expect upon arrival at their playground or park. My family was spending increasingly more time outdoors in places beyond the playgrounds. It took Manny from the Inside the Outdoors Foundation (Get Outdoors! OC) to say “YOU should start your own Family Nature Club,” for the lightbulb to go on.

I should start my own club! Why haven’t I started my own club? Answer: I hate group activities. I hate crowds. I can’t stand being on someone else’s schedule. So what! Why should that stop me? I can make the club whatever I want it to be. I can keep it small if I want.

Oops! But then there’s the already existing Family Nature Club of OC. I don’t want to step on any toes so I shoot an e-mail over to the organizer there, Leeta Latham. She very prophetically says, “I think it is great to have different nature clubs in the county.  We will all have different activities and ideas, but all with one common goal.”

Once I decided my path, it literally took me 10 minutes to register on C&NN and download my Nature Clubs for Families toolkit.  All you have to do is think of a club name. Nature Rocks has a similar program called Nature Rocks Flocks.

I started an online journal at to record our experiences and share organizational tools. If you click over, you’ll see a template of our first invitation.  Feel free to use it as a template for your own invite!

Our first meeting was at Canyon View Park.  What a blast!  But that’s a whole other story . . . and, yes, it has a lot to do with snails.

Suz Lipman

Thursday 5th of January 2012

Hi Michele! It's so exciting to read about your path in starting a family nature club. I'm eager to see what new adventures await and am thrilled that C&NN's Nature Clubs for Families toolkit was so helpful.

Marghanita Hughes

Monday 19th of April 2010

Way to go Michele-your nature buddies are very lucky to have such an enthusiastic, inspiring club leader. Nature clubs rock! .-= Marghanita Hughes´s last blog ..EARTH DAY-Make 5 Simple Changes =-.


Monday 19th of April 2010

If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends and nature; and the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature. - John Burroughs So what you have offered here is priceless!

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