Fun, fresh, exciting, educational, and relaxing. These are just a few words I would use to describe the outdoors. It's all around us, and thank goodness! I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have nature in my life.
For some, the outdoors is a twenty minute walk after work with their companion or a weekend spent harvesting vegetables in the garden. For others, it takes the form of activities like fishing, camping, or kayaking. For me, it's hiking for hours through forest trails or teaching solar cooking workshops with youth. What is solar cooking, you may ask? Well, let's just say it's a fun interactive way to spend time in nature while preparing your own hot meal! Made from cardboard, tinfoil, and glue, this small project can have a positive impact when used on a regular basis because it doesn't require electricity or wood to heat up and cook your food. I learned how to build and use one from a friend years ago and still carry on planning workshops for kids today. It is my way of contributing and involving my passion for nature and environmental education with youth. Not everyone has to run out and start building solar cookers (although if you would like to, visit http://valeriecomer.com/?p=1113), but I use this as an example of how diverse our experiences outdoors can be.
It is from my past experiences that I carry my energy forward in this movement to reconnect people to nature. From being outdoors in my own neighborhood, to being surrounded by youth in the outdoors in the middle of New York City while attending Outdoor Nation, I have had an amazing experience being involved with the Natural Leaders Network. Since 2009, our core members and supporters have been fulfilling our mission to empower a worldwide youth movement to strengthen the bond between children and nature.
There is a lot of support and resources available to get involved and get outdoors! From our natural leader’s website that has the link to our toolkit (http://www.childrenandnature.org/movement/naturalleadersreg/), to attending national events put on by non-profits or businesses such as the North Face’s annual Outdoor Nation summit, you can find a place to share your enthusiasm for nature. Countless publications are out there to help guide you as well, such as Audubon's field guides, national geographic adventure magazine, and even a book I was featured in called Girls Gone Green by Lynn Hershfield. The best place to start is actually right on the Children & Nature Network's home page!
Whatever your passion is, I encourage you to reach out, utilize resources available, and encourage others to join in! It's made such a difference in my life and I look forward to meet and work with future Natural Leaders to make a difference in theirs!