Understanding, overcoming a fear of the forest

Nyctohylophobia is the much more common fear and foreboding of journeying in the woods at night. It is a sense that you are not alone and it is a fear that can be debilitating for some. It is an affliction that extends far beyond the typical shivers and goose bumps that are expected after an evening of ghost stories around the campfire.

It is understandable that we have a greater fear of the unknown, than of the things that are known to us.

An overzealous imagination can create monsters far beyond any known to exist in the natural world, and as society continues to spiral into the depths of natural detachment; it is easy to understand the growing fear of the woods. We fear most, the things we least understand.

While hylophobia is largely an unfounded fear, there are at least a few psychological afflictions with a rational basis in the Great North Woods. These maladies would have to include Agrizoophobia, a fear of wild animals and Entomophobia, a fear of insects. Anyone spending time in the Adirondacks during black fly season could easily justify becoming an Entomophobiac.

Likewise, many local residents surely suffer from Chionophobia, at some point in their life. Around these parts, Chionophobia, an intense fear of snow is an understated reality, at almost anytime of the year.

Time in the woods better for the classroom

Despite concerns over a growing fear of the woods, a recent study conducted for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies offers ample evidence to alleviate such apprehensions. Researchers funded through a Multistate Conservation Grant of the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program, uncovered a wide range of benefits that can be attributed to spending time in the open air and learning outside.

The study suggests "a meaningful engagement with nature as a child has a direct correlation with involvement in environmental issues in the future, which should be of great interest as communities look for the next generation of environmental leaders."

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