6.06.2007

Gaming and National Parks

Christian Science Monitor is reporting a decline in national park attendance. While some sites are saying that the article claims that games are specifically to blame, the article takes issue with a problem much broader: Technology as a whole.

I live in the wilds of PA and typically sees things like deer, bear, and the occasional mountain lion. Everyday, I go to work and help kids that don't remember what life before their cellphone was like. Many of them could tell you what a cow looks like, but sheep? Talk about a total freak out when they see the campus flocks.

Children today are very nature illiterate. It started with the rise of computers and the consumer/disposable society. Parents want to give their children they have the best. Unfortunately, that means less discipline and more toys. It means less siblings and more high end gadgets. It means less cheap camping trips and more expensive vacations.

In wanting to give them the best, we gave them the worst.

For example: The best man at my wedding, who is an Eagle Scout by the way, is dating a very nature illiterate young woman. She saw a deer and asked if it was going to attack her. *sigh*

Here is a comparison of their lives:

Best Man

Girl Friend

Many Siblings

Only Child

Summer Camping Trips

Summer Cruises

Grew up in Rural PA

Grew up in City


This girl thinks her boyfriend had a horrible childhood because he grew up in the middle of nowhere with a lot of brothers and sisters. It never occurs to her that his life is richer by far because he has a larger experience of the world and a large family support system. It's sad that the girl who grew up rich in money is so poor in worldliness.

Her parents, in attempting to give her the best, short changed her. A nature walk, complete with natural wildlife is only half a mile from her house. Yet she never knew it was there until her boyfriend found it. There's no sense of adventure in her. The idea that she might have to take a chance and risk something in the future terrifies her.

Many kids play video games because it simulates the adventure they need to have in order to grow both creatively and physically. Even on playgrounds, kids sit around with a device, rather than play with each other. The less family a person has, the less likely they are to experience the Great Outdoors. Siblings drag you outside if your parents don't kick you out into the sun first.

But solving nature illiteracy is easy.

Find the closest national, state, or local park.
Go there with a picnic lunch. (hike, bike, walk, skip, jump, somersault, etc.)
Enjoy.

You could also:

Go to a Zoo.
Go to an Aquarium.
Go Camping.
Help out your local boy and girl scout troops.
Sign your kids up for the local boy and girl scout troops.
Just turn off the electronics.

To help yourself and future generations become nature literate, start right now. Turn off your computer, walk outside, and hug a tree.

Now if you'll excuse me, there's an awesome little parklet behind the spiritual center that's calling my name.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Man, there wasn't much that was as fun as camping trips when I was a kid. Going fishing with Grandpa (even though I don't care for fishing), cooking on a campfire, swimming in the creeks... Good times.