Children, Teens and a Return to Nature: OUR Shared Responsibility

Nature awakens our senses and it stimulates our childlike curiosity; it evokes feelings of awe and wonder in us through its vastness and its eternal beauty; it sustains our spirituality and it nourishes our souls; it fuels our imagination and it ignites our creativity; it inspires us to reach out for the stars, and to follow our dreams wherever they may lead us…
~ Trail Dreams worker bee

Here at Trail Dreams we work from a very basic premise when it comes to our relationship with nature: simply put, we believe that there is no such thing as too much exposure to the natural world for anybody. In fact, we feel so strongly about our responsibility to encourage people to connect with nature that we have made it a part of both our organization’s Mission and Dream statements. The physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits that human beings obtain through regular exposure to the outdoors are therapeutic, well documented, and virtually universally accepted. Nature heals, it inspires, it soothes the spirit, and it is a major contributor to our happiness and peace of mind.

Yet sadly, for many of those who could benefit the most from its profound gifts – children and teens – nature has gradually receded into the background over recent decades, becoming merely a distant curiosity for far too many young people. Where not so long ago they were encouraged, even required to venture into the Great Outdoors to explore, discover, play, get dirty, young people are increasingly remaining closer to their homes, neighborhoods and schools, where everything in their world is known, safe, reliable, predictable, controlled, sterile… and wired in electronically. Ironically, the very same conditions that young people experience in their highly sanitized, managed world are the exact opposite of anything they could expect to find in the sublime and perfect anarchy of the natural world, and for that they suffer.

While there are a number of valid reasons for this disassociation – and unhappily just as many well-intentioned but misguided ones – the unfortunate result is that young people have become isolated and unaware of the vitality and exquisite diversity of the living world when they are disconnected from any type of intimate relationship with nature. They have thereby been denied the opportunity to develop an appreciation for the beauty, complexity and infinite variety of all the living organisms that share our planet. Young people require exposure to this diversity because the lessons they learn by being immersed in nature are easily translated into an ability to comprehend mankind’s common heritage, and to accept as equals the disparate cultures, religions, ideologies and belief systems that they will encounter as they venture forth into our equally complex and chaotic civilized world.

Trail Dreams encourages you, our visitors, to become proactive in helping our children reconnect with the natural world, and it is for this reason that we are announcing our newest workshop targeted at all persons who wish to become more involved in this crucial mission to reunite our young people with this, their most precious heritage.

Trail Dreams: Children, Teens and a Return to Nature – OUR Shared Responsibility is a program that’s specifically designed for parents, educators, youth organization leaders, health professionals, conservationists and related parties. Brad Cook understands that it is OUR responsibility to shut off the electronic devices for a while and to share some quality time with children as we lead them back into active participation in nature, rather than sheltering them from it. He will lead a workshop that will be both informative and inspirational as he examines the reasons why children have been increasingly denied access to the natural world, as viewed from the valuable perspectives of his thirty-five year career in public health education and his extensive exposure to the natural world. Attendees will be better able to understand and thereby counteract the significant negative physical, psychological, spiritual and societal affects on children that have resulted from this unwarranted separation. In his typically professional, low-key manner Brad will encourage a highly participatory dialogue that will help all of us, as caregivers, to serve as examples and leaders in reuniting young people with nature, so that we ALL may learn some critical lessons about life, happiness and our personal responsibilities.

Please contact Brad or Samantha to schedule a workshop, or to obtain additional information about Trail Dreams programs.