Sep 9 2009

Exposing Kids to Nature

Clingmans Dome sunrise 379My father would have been 85 years old today.  He died 24 years ago but I still miss him a lot.  Robert Edwin Summers, Jr. is remembered for his love of his family, his strong work ethic and his faith.  He was a very good father.

The reason I am writing about my Dad today is not just because it is his birth date.  I also want to recognize the role he played in my love for nature.  When I was very young my family took a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It was one of my father’s favorite places and we made a number of trips there, usually in the fall.  As a youngster, I fell in love with the mountains.

Also in my childhood Dad bought a boat and camper.  Although we did not go often we spent some wonderful times as a family in the Land Between the Lakes area in western Kentucky.  What fun it was to swim in the lake and camp in the woods!

I am very thankful for the exposure my father gave me to the outdoors and nature as a child.  I have no doubt that it had much to do with my current love of Creation.  All of this leads me to my present concern that many children today are not getting the same exposure.  It seems fewer and fewer kids are connected to nature. 

I recently came across an article that shares four reasons exposure to nature is essential for our children’s well-being.  The reasons shared are 1) time outside has a direct impact on a child’s development; 2) time outside can help prevent sensory over-load and over-reliance on the material world; 3) time outside boosts creativity, confidence and focus; potentially relieving symptoms of attention and learning disorders; and 4) time outside can help our children appreciate and understand the planet despite confusing and troubling messages from the media.

To this list I would add time outside can help children better understand and experience God.  As Rob and I frequently point out in this blog, God often reveals Himself through His Creation.  Children will not have a chance to experience this if they are not given opportunities to enjoy nature.  I am so thankful for a father who helped instill in me a love of nature and in the process an even greater love for my heavenly Father.


(The picture above was taken at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.)