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It's all about the kids

The movement has progressed from theories to initiatives and finally to law. As silly as it sounds, the state of California enacted a 'Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights' last year. Elsewhere, Texas has developed a 'Life is Better Outside' campaign, Connecticut has a formal 'No Child Left Inside' program and the U.S. Forest Service is launched a 'More Kids in the Woods' effort.

What would prompt the U.S.Forest Service to act? At some U.S. National Parks, overall visits by Americans have dropped by 25 percent since 1987, few people get far from their cars and camping is on the decline.

"I think we need to get out there and enjoy it.", explained Dirk Kempthone, US Secretary of the Interior,"If you can be the ambassador of the outdoors and get a child to begin to experience this; their imagination can be expanded while enjoying greater activity and greater health."

He continued,"I think we should take a break from our Blackberries in order to encourage the nation's children to pick blackberries."

Certainly, there are risks associated with outdoor travel. Nature is dynamic and the outdoors can be very intimidating, but in terms of comparative risks; the benefits of the nature-child reunion are considerable.

Sure, there are risks outside our homes. But there are also risks in raising children under virtual protective house arrest which present threats to their independent judgment , creativity, self confidence and value of place, to their ability to feel awe and wonder, to their sense of stewardship for the earth and, most immediately, threats to their psychological and physical health.

A rapid increase of childhood obesity in this country has lead health-care leaders to worry that the current generation of children may be the first since World War II to die at an earlier age than their parents.

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