The Last Child in the Woods Chapters 10-14:
Chapter 10: The Bogeyman Syndrome Redux
Man’s heart away from nature, becomes hard; [the Lakota] knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.
–Luther Standing Bear (c 1868-1939)
Fear strikes the heart of most parents. We have become “scared stupid” by the media. “The most disturbing finding of [the Duke Well-Being Index] report is not violence or abductions, but ‘that children’s health has sunk to its lowest point in the 30-year history of the Index, driven largely by an alarming rise in the number of children who are obese and a smaller decline in child mortality rates than achieved in recent years” (128). And fear causes parents to keep kids indoors away from the physical and emotional activity that they need most.
The Bogeyman Syndrome: is fear of nature
Chapter 11: Don’t Know Much About Natural History: Education as a Barrier to Nature
To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or seaside stroll is a week through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall.
How do we EXPERIENCE nature in OUR area? How can we make nature a PRIORITY in the education of our future kids?
- Challenge your children’s schools and educators.
- Be proactive, get fellow parents involved in educating themselves on what your children are learning.
- Get children to want to be outside and not fear being outside.
Chapter 12: Where Will Future Stewards of Nature Come From
[What is the] extinction of a condor to a child who has never seen a wren
-Naturalist Robert Michael Pyle
Richard Louv says “organizers of nature activities should strive to make the experience as unorganized as possible — but still meaningful” let children explore and discover on their own (151).
Chapter 13: Bringing Nature Home
It is not half so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to the natural world.
Learning vs. Experience:
- “If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy.” (Page 164)
- “The main thing is to find or rediscover our own sense of joy, excitement, and mystery.” (Page 166)
- “Your job isn’t to hit them with another Fine Educational Opportunity, but to turn them on to what a neat world we live in” (Deborah Churchman, American Forests, Page 172)
- “One parent’s hike is another’s forced march, and the same is true for children. Parents must walk a fine line between presenting and pushing the kids to the outdoors. (Page 171)
Chapter 14: Scared Smart: Facing the Bogeyman
The Most Important Thing Parents Can Do:
- “Appropriate Trust” ~ Instead of teaching our kids only about the evils of the world, teach them about the people who they can trust if they get into trouble. “Kids want the information that’s going to enable them to protect themselves.” (Page 184)
- “Self-esteem, self-confidence, close relationship with parents” ~ These are the ones who are less likely to get victimized. Ask any kid who gets bullied. Bullies pick on the ones who don’t appear as confident as the rest. If you are out in nature and come upon a tree trunk that is acting as a bridge to the other side of a creek, are you more likely to get hurt if you are scared while walking on the trunk, being timid and unsure of your steps? I think so. If you are confident as you walk, you will have more steady balance.
- “Love and time” ~ “The time we give our children builds their self-esteem and self-confidence, and this gives them armor they can take with them the rest of their lives.” (Page 185)
Hyperawareness in Nature: Enhancing Instinctual Confidence:
- “Hyperawareness” ~ Being told to “pay attention” instead of to “be careful”. Hyperawareness is instructive instead of reacting to a feeling of fight or flight.
- “Nature Smart” ~ This is like being “street smart”. Street smart people know how to survive on the street because they have been around the block. Nature smart people have been around the tree enough to know how to survive in natural environments.
How to Overcome the Bogeyman Syndrome: STOP FEARING NATURE, expose yourself to it and fall in love with it. Be one with nature, be connected.