Article for July - August 2007
Parents Speak Out
by Rosanne McDowell
In an informal poll, many South Carolina parents shared thoughts on the subject. A sampling:
- Tracy Marsh, of Edgefield County: "[With outdoor play,] there are no complaints when it's bedtime. The children are worn out and ready for rest, and they all sleep through the night. They eat less, too, because they’re not inside grabbing snacks."
- Krista Parsing, of Ft. Jackson: "Being outdoors . . . has provided [our children] with many wonderful chances to observe God’s world, which has helped them gain appreciation for all living things. We've noticed they show more concern for our world. For example, they pick up litter because they know it can be harmful to wildlife."
- Bob Carroll, of Lexington: "The nature-deficit problem is severe. I could write a book of anecdotes from my classroom. In my own family, however, my wife and I still go camping with our son, now in college—and in a tent, not an RV!"
- Lisa Carino, of Eastover: "It's funny seeing parents enroll their children in scouting and then finding out they really don't want them outside. I actually had a parent comment about the Sandhills outing that there might be wildlife out there!"
- Vicki Hughey, of Enoree: "Parents need to consider making hard decisions about where to raise their children. We live forty minutes from my husband’s job, twenty-five minutes from our church and ten minutes from the nearest grocery store, but we decided it was worth the time and trouble to give our children the opportunity of growing up in the country."
- Louv's tip: Give your children cell phones to take along into the woods. Remember that "time in nature encourages . . . awareness of what’s going on around you, . . . [which] can be transferred to other areas of life, such as traversing a dark parking lot at night."
"Get 'Em Outdoors" Reading List
- Birds of the Carolinas and other field guides*
- Bush Craft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival by Mors Kochanski
- Carolina Rocks by Carolyn Hanna Murphy*
- Children of Summer—Henri Fabre's Insects by Margaret J. Anderson
- Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock
- Hiking South Carolina by Clark and Dantzler*
- Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie
- Nature Guide to the Carolina Coast by Peter Meyer*
- Paddling South Carolina by Able and Horan*
- Turtle Tracks by Sally Harman Plowden*
* Available in The Wildlife Shop (1-888-644-WILD)
Other Helpful Sources
DNR Parents Make the Child-Nature Connection
Bill Marshall: "When we lived in a city setting, we tried to look for, and appreciate, the wild things that were there in the trees, shrubs and soil. With the large trees of Columbia's Rosewood neighborhood and with Gills Creek corridor nearby, we would often see and hear owls and hawks of many kinds; we put out bird feeders in winter to draw the migrating songbirds to our windows; and my wife, Cathie, would often take the kids for a nature walk around nearby blocks. I think you have to cultivate kids' interest and curiosity and then go outside and look around, wherever you are, to see what can be found."
Cathie Marshall (wife of Bill Marshall): "We have a nature museum with snake skins, a bird's nest with cracked eggs in it, turtle shells, a honeycomb, wasp's nest, petrified wood, unique rocks and other discoveries. When our kids bring us their finds, we drop everything and get excited with them. They participate in the Junior Master Gardener program, too."
Scott Powell: "My wife and I insist on outdoor activities like hunting, fishing and hiking. When it comes to discipline, our children's biggest fear is that they won’t get to go hunting or fishing!"
Gene Hayes: "I asked my teenaged daughter for an outdoor adventure that stands out as a highlight, and she said her 'neatest experiences' were inshore fishing with Dean Harrigal (also a DNR biologist) in St. Helena Sound on Labor Day weekends. These outings with Dean, fishing for channel bass, flounder and sea trout, have become almost annual excursions."
Jim Bulak: "We try to take a vacation where the outdoors plays an important part, as with our annual week out west skiing."
Denise Froehle: "There’s a trail from our neighborhood to the Sandhills Research Station, and it starts behind our house. We hike there every so often."
Rosanne McDowell is a free-lance writer living in Columbia.