A national movement seeking to foster the reattachment between children and nature continues to make great strides, despite the ever-growing enticements of the digital age.
Throughout the nation, numerous organizations have been developed under the "No Child Left Inside" banner. Many of these efforts were prompted by Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods-Saving your children from Nature Deficit Disorder.
Concerns about the long-term consequences of this detachment on children's emotional well-being, physical health and learning abilities, has been the focus of Capitol Hill hearings, state legislative action, grass-roots projects, and numerous state and federal initiatives to get more children into the woods.
However, over the years, I've noted a disturbing trend that has developed regarding the effort to bring children, 'back to nature'. I am not concerned with program content, for I recognize the importance of introducing children to the outdoors.
My concern centers primarily on the focus of such efforts, which by and large, appear to have concentrated on urban and suburban kids. Certainly, I understand that these are populations in need of greater exposure to nature, simply due to the fact they are physically further removed from it.
Green space is available in very limited quantities in the concrete confines of most urban areas, and city parks are far removed from what we consider 'our park'.
Similar to other rural communities across America, most Adirondack towns are blessed with a multitude of wild lands, wild rivers and wild animals. These tremendous natural resources are often easily accessible for recreation, on the fringes of our villages.
Although a majority of the No Child Left Inside efforts have focused on suburban and urban youth, we cannot afford to overlook the need to offer comparable opportunities for our own children, in our own communities. Traditionally, rural youth remain overlooked and underserved.