A Mother and Daughter Discuss the Transformative Power of Nature
During much of my career in education, I have provided professional development to environmental educators. I understand the importance of sharing nature with children, but in my role as a parent, it has not always been so easy to practice what I preach. Despite my best intentions, my daughter Katie, now a senior in college, discovered the power of nature through an experience that did not involve either her father or me.
A Mother Reflects on Raising Her Children Surrounded by Nature
When my daughters were infants, I had dreams about how we would raise them and who they would become. I pictured long afternoons in the woods and frequent family camping trips. I imagined us playing together in a tree house, happily slogging through swamps and romping along beaches. Well, some of those things happened and some didn’t. Though my husband and I have tried to be good parents, we were blissfully ignorant of the realities of raising a family while working at two jobs and running a household. Practical matters interfered with my idealistic plans to raise two nature lovers. As the girls got older, they had their own interests and activities. The influence of friends, boyfriends, and instant messaging were strong. Our girls were living in a world that was, as Louv puts it, is “….teaching young people to avoid direct experience in nature” (p. 2). Then my oldest, Katie, came home from college one semester break and announced her intention to hike the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine. I was happy, proud, and worried, but my first reaction was, “Katie…… HIKING?” I was shocked that this was something she’d want to do. Katie’s experience on this challenging section of the Appalachian Trail turned out to be life altering for her. My daughter’s comfort in and knowledge of the natural world now far surpasses my own. I am still wondering how this kid, who not so long ago thought a sleeping bag was best used on the living room couch, turned out this way. So I sat down to talk with Katie about how her relationship with nature developed.
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