Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ranting Against Youth Nature Deficit Disorder

Our family uses Fundy National Park regularly for our vacations.  Its much cheaper than Disneyland.


BLOGGER'S NOTE: I had this blog published in the Kings County Record recently.  I hope you enjoy it.
 
I've heard it said many times that there is a "Youth Nature Deficit Disorder."  This disorder is tough to swallow for a guy like me and I try to ignore it as much as possible.  Recently that became difficult when some youth I was mentoring indicated that out of the group, less than 20% had spent time outdoors in a tent.  This blew me away and I couldn't believe it.  It gave me a new resolve to increase the writing I do about outdoor activities and such and try to mentor more youth in outdoor adventure.

As I try to understand the problem further I am starting to think that it is not the youth with the issue but rather the parents.  Sorry folks but I have to put the blame where I feel it lies.  Now to be honest you can't be fully to blame, after all our economic needs have changed and have required that we work harder so we can afford our lavish lifestyle and all the organized sports that we want to play.  Don't get me wrong organized sports have a role too, heck I'm a minor hockey coach, so I'm not against youth sports.  As our cost of living has gone up and families have moved from one income to two, it has meant families have less time to vacation together.  Oh and when they do marketers have us believing we would be better to go to Disneyland or somewhere extravagant like that.

This last point is where I really get frustrated.  I don't need to pay hundreds of dollars to wait in line so I can shake hands with an oversized mouse, I can go in the backyard and find a real one and not pay a dime.  I don't need to meet a certain weight or height requirement to enjoy a 3 minute, thrill ride.  I can jump in a canoe and take one that can last for hours and for a bonus I can see not just two ducks, but I can see a whole flock.

As parents we seem to think that unless we take our kids to Disney or Seaworld or some other notable location that we are a failure.  I have been waging this battle myself and I'm not sure I'm winning.  I will make an effort to get my kids out for at least one hour of exploration a week, even if it means I have to take them out after dark.  Already my son and I are planning to spend a night out in a quinzhee this winter and that is definitely something you can't do at Disneyland.

I encourage all of you, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, big brothers or sisters, take someone younger than you out to explore.  You won't just find adventure, you'll find your mind letting go of financial worries and work stress.  Even better you won't incur the un-needed increase in both just to have vacation.  The memories of Disney will fade as will those made in the local forest but won't fade are the bonds you create while spending time with family.  Do we really need to travel more than 5500km producing 263g of greenhouse gas for every kilometer on average.  If the environmental argument is good enough than take a look at the price of fuel today ($1.23 in Sussex) and consider that a car gets 12km/l, roughly.  That means that if you were to drive it would cost almost $590 just to get there…oh and by the way gas is cheap in Sussex right now.

So again get out side here locally.  Heck if you need ideas of where to go or what to do search out some of my old columns.

The video is rough but shows how even a puddle on a sculpture is like Seaworld to a small child.  There were no lines and everyone was having fun.


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