“I wanna go outside!” – Me at every age
My Love of the Outdoors
I owe my love for the outdoors to my parents. We spent many summer weekends exploring our natural environment. From the Sonoran Desert, to the high country in Northern Arizona, and the many National Parks we visited. My parents taught me to enjoy and respect nature.
Our style of camping was “boon docking”, which means, you are down a dirt road a few miles, no campground or other people to be seen. There were no toilets. We had a primitive flare to us, and there’s even an old picture of me as a toddler discreetly using the “outdoor” potty. I can vividly recall a life altering moment in Yellowstone National Park, circa 1986. I was sitting in a hot spring near our campground and witnessed a small family of deer no more than five feet away, taking a drink from the spring. My Dad was perched on the other side of the bank ready with his camera.
This is the point where I truly felt a part of the world, not just an observer. Thanks Mom and Dad.
A Few Health Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
For years, I’ve been called granola and tree-hugger (I’ll take it as a compliment!), and I know not all moms share my love for the dirt, bugs, elements, and uncomfortable seating. However, there are real health benefits (for you and the kids!) of spending time in nature. In fact, in Canada, doctors are now prescribing nature walks and national park visits.
Instead of walking out of the doctor’s office with a list of prescriptions and referrals, people are receiving encouragement to get outside. Although subtle, new research is showing how our natural world improves our health.
- improved self-esteem
- strengthens immune system
- lowers stress hormones
- helps memory
You do not have to go boon docking in order to connect with the outdoors. Here are a few simple and also more adventurous tips to connect with nature.
Simple Ways to Connect with Nature
- Go out your front door barefoot. Stand for one minute with your feet touching the grass, pebbles or sidewalk. Take notice of the natural world using four of the five senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How do your feet feel touching the earth?
- Look out your window and name the first natural thing you see. Extra credit, name two more features of nature you can see out your window.
- Listen to water running – use an online music app if needed.
- Take a five-minute nature walk out your front door, or through your backyard.
- Nature scavenger hunt – digital devices allowed. Send the kids outside to look for 5 predetermined items in your backyard. They can snap a picture for proof. Everyone’s a winner for this game!
- Find a local hiking trail to climb at sunrise or sunset. There’s something magical about the sunrise and sunset. (Conejo Open Space)
- Join an outdoor walking group – or start one!
- Head to the beach – even if you don’t have a chair, cooler and snacks.
- Ventura Botanical Gardens (every Friday is a FREE day)
- Conejo Valley Botanical Gardens
- Walk around a plant nursery and learn the names of your favorite plants
- A trip to the Channel Islands National Park
- Visit our many local native American historical sites to learn more about the indigenous people in Ventura County (Chumash Indian Museum, Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center)
A Native American Proverb – “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
Get outside and play!