The Children and Nature Network (C&NN) recognizes the importance of reconnecting our society to the natural world, especially our children. Their Natural Families Network promotes family activities that encourage learning, play and growing in the natural world. Natural Families believes that children who spend time in nature are happier, healthier and smarter, and aspire to share their experiences with other families.

One way that families can get involved in outdoor activities is through the C&NN’s Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to get as many individuals and families outside as possible nationwide during the month of April 2013. Events can vary dramatically. You are encouraged to host or join a day hike, camping trip, or trail/water way cleanup effort near you. You can a find a link to register your event here or locate an event here.

Young children inherently love going outside. But in today’s society we are constantly overscheduled, overworked and overstressed. The worst part is that we unknowingly do the same thing to our kids. It seems like today’s parenting technique is to divide and conquer. Our kids are involved in multiple sports, music lessons and much more. Parents end up having to divide and conquer every afternoon in order to get everyone where they need to be. While having our kids involved in all of these activities may instill in them responsibility, teamwork and physical and mental toughness there is another way those same things can be accomplished. The great outdoors was the very first classroom and continues to be just that for every child if the child is given the opportunity to interact with and explore nature.

A range of activities is just waiting to be encountered in the natural world. You can escort a toddler on a short walk through your back yard and allow him to stop and explore all that he sees. You can also take an adventurous teen on a more challenging hike, camping or canoeing trip, allowing them the freedom to push their limits at the own pace while learning about themselves and what they are actually capable of doing.

Today most individuals and families are so far removed from nature and the natural world that to some, thinking about going on a hike in an unfamiliar forest can be a little unnerving, if not frightening. However, if we take a hint from the animal world, there is safety in numbers! Some of the fear of the unknown can be abated in a group setting. Group activities lend themselves socialization, greater range of activities and lots more fun! The same can be said of group activities in nature. Have fun making new friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Get up, Get out and Let's G.O.!

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