There was an article in the paper this week about our local Boy Scout troop, which received the Journey to Excellence Gold Unit Award last year. “Less than 5 percent of Boy Scout troops nationally earn this award, which speaks to the vibrancy and extent of the local program, its excellent retention rate and continued year-over-year growth.”
The photos speak volumes about some of what the boys experience and learn about nature – filtering water from a stream, backpacking into the wilderness, rafting, hiking and fishing. Looking at the boys sitting on the edge of the stream watching how to filter water, I thought, ‘Wow, these kids are unplugged and sitting in the woods.’
That’s where children need to be. Not always. Technology is an undeniable part of our lives, but some kids never get out into the wild. I think it’s a big balancing act for parents these days to combine technology with nature. The start of an education that includes sustainability is outdoors.
My younger daughter went to an Expeditionary Learning school for her middle school years. At the time, EL was partnered with Outward Bound, so there were four week-long camping trips a year. The kids went rafting, backpacking and winter camping during the year, then the final week of school was spent at a camp up the road from the school grounds. Survival skills, teamwork and the cycles of nature were tied to the curriculum. To me, this was a perfect education, especially for middle school kids.
When teachers are knowledgeable and passionate about the natural world, students are unknowingly learning what they need to protect and preserve. It’s the first step towards being sustainable as they grow into adults.
As I was thinking of this idea, this article came in my email from Mother Earth News about their International Homesteading Education Month. Through events in the month of September around the world, children and adults alike can learn about organic gardening, livestock, green building, renewable energy and many other topics. Attending one of these events would be a wonderful way to start off a school year and add to a child’s education about sustainability and nature.
When I read things like these articles, it makes me sad my kids are grown and on their own! But you can make a difference by getting your kids unplugged, outdoors and learning about self-sufficiency.