In 2008, Richard Louv introduced the world to “nature-deficit” disorder with his best-selling book Last Child in the Woods. He spoke about how a lack of nature in a child’s life is directly tied to many of the health and behavioral issues witnessed more and more frequently. Last Child in the Woods influenced national policy and is widely credited as the impetus behind the modern American nature-exposure movement. Louv is the chairman of the Children & Nature Network, and the honorary co-chair of the National Forum on Children and Nature.
10 years later he has published a guide-book for families and communities who want to combat nature deficit disorder. Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life has 500 suggestions for people of all ages, in all geographic locations and of all economic means, to get out and experience nature.
Louv says that it is crucial to give children time for free, independent play outdoors and to allow them to explore and find answers on their own. He encourages parents to be hummingbird parents instead of helicopter parents.
Some of the suggestions that Louv makes in Vitamin N include:
- Create your own nature gym in the backyard: Exercising outside offers more benefits than an indoor workout.
- Take up the sport of orienteering: Outdoor racing using a map and a compass can be done on foot, skis and mountain bikes.
- Go on a belly hike: Have you and your kids inch along on your bellies, covering just a few feet and view the drama of ant life, a beetle passing by, pollen on the petals of a flower, an infant plant emerging on its first day.
- Count urban birds: Gather and exchange data on line on wildlife migration, the budding of plants, changes in light levels and other seasonal events.
- Experiment with rooftop camping: If you have no yard, rooftop camping offers a great alternative. It is catching on with urban families and romantic couples.
- Organize a family nature club: Work together with other families to set up a system for several families to explore nature together and feel safer doing it. Download a free toolkit on creating your own family nature club at org.
Richard Louv will speak at the Tattered Cover on East Colfax in Denver at 7pm on Friday May 13th.