As a child, I grew up outside exploring every inch of my parents’ property, building forts and tree houses out of whatever I could find, usually with my dog and sometimes a sister in tow. Often I would hear the words, “Go outside and play!” The reality is that these words seem to be spoken less and less today. Research shows that children, as well as adults, are not going outside as much as they did in the past.
Is this a problem? Writer and naturalist Robert Michael Pyle coined the phrase “extinction of experience,” which means the erosion of children’s direct, spontaneous contact with raw nature. Pyle views this “extinction of experience” as having huge implications for our society’s conservation values. As Pyle simply states, “What is the extinction of a condor to a child who has never known a wren?”
Mending this erosion can be difficult, but leaders in the environmental and education fields, including VINS, are starting to comprehend the severity of this reality. Who will foster our future naturalists and environmentalists? Where will our next Rachel Carson or John Muir come from? This is where I believe VINS Nature Camps play a major role. A camp experience may be one of the only times a child will encounter that significant outdoor experience that is so crucial in fostering an environmental ethic in our children.
VINS believes if any child wants to attend one of our nature camps, we will make sure that cost is not a factor in attending. We have been able to gain support for our camp scholarship program through the generous donations of many individuals and community sponsors.
To learn all about this summer’s VINS Nature Camps, including online registration, please visit our web site's camp information page, or call 802-359-5000, ext. 221.
In these tough economic times VINS understands the choices parents have to make regarding summer camp options for their children, and we hope that no matter what parents decide to do this summer, they bring their children outside and let them experience summer with their feet in the grass and their heads in the clouds.