A few months ago, I sat down with my nature-connection colleague Sean Guinan of the Environmental Pediatrics Institute to chat about “rewilding childhood.” It’s a concept that we could all do well to embrace as our use of technology expands and our children are born into a world that is vastly different from the one that greeted us. I’m in that weird “fringe” or “micro” generation, the one that includes anybody born from about 1977 through 1983. When I was in high school, my friend Jena helped me come up with my first email address. There was a class called “keyboarding,” and the computers were huge machines that took up entire desks. We did research using encyclopedias, and there were limits to how many “web” resources you could use when writing a paper. I had a cell phone in college but almost never used it since it was so expensive, and I turned in my senior paper …. on paper, and it got returned marked up in red ink. Social media was not a thing until I was well out of college, though Instant messaging had started to permeate the campus the last few years of my undergraduate days. In short, I remember what it was like to live in the analog world, and digital technology took on a ‘life of its own’ at about the same time I did. Those who share my generation, or those who were born in generations prior might resonate with the following:
If you grew up in the 1980s or before, it’s likely you spent much of your free time during childhood running around outside, making forts, chasing butterflies, or just kicking around with the neighborhood kids. You didn’t have a cell phone and the video game options were limited. Going outside was the best option.
There are a lot of options competing for kids’ time and attention in our world today. So, Sean and I talked about how important it is, in this day and age, to provide opportunities for kids to simply go outside and benefit from all that comes from living a life that is, at least sometimes, unplugged.
The Wild Child: Rewilding Childhood Challenge is a six week nature connection program for children and caregivers, and it’s open for enrollment! Updated Feb. 2021: WAWU has recently closed its doors so Wild Child is not open for enrollment.