C&NN Connect

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C&NN Natural Families Network


C&NN Natural Families Network

Welcome to the virtual gathering place of the Natural Families Network.  A “Natural Family” is any family who values and uses the natural world as a place for playing, growing, and learning. Natural Families believe that children who spend time in nature are happier, healthier and smarter, and aspire to share their experiences with other families. 

Website: http://www.childrenandnature.org/movement/naturalfamilies/
Location: Worldwide!
Members: 194
Latest Activity: 18 hours ago


The Natural Family Network is a forum designed to connect families virtually, giving space to share ideas and ask for suggestions, where families can be engaged, supportive and encouraged. Here, we discuss and ask questions about using the natural world as a playground for our kids, whereby connecting with nature on a regular basis, they will harvest the seeds of lifelong stewardship in and for the natural world.

It is our hope that this forum will help grow the movement and inspire more families to enjoy the wonders of nature, either with a family nature club, with friends, or on their own! This is a great place to get more information on how to start a family nature club if you’re interested, too. Peruse the topics here and jump in with your own questions and contributions often.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about the C&NN Connect site.

The goal of the Natural Families Network and this website is to encourage more families to connect their children with nature and to provide a forum where Natural Families can share their ideas, experiences and views.

Please participate actively, and encourage others to join. Get together face-to-face as well when you can!

You'll find tools and resources on the Natural Families Network home pages and throughout the larger Children & Nature Network website.

If you're looking for tools and resources you'll find them on the Natural Families Network home pages and throughout the larger Children & Nature Network website.

Discussion Forum

Geocaching -- Awesome Outdoor Adventure

Today I went geocaching with a group of my co-workers and had a blast. It's super simple, and the one we did was geared for any kids over the age of 7.  Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure…Continue

Tags: gps, hunt, scavenger, adventure, geocaching

Started by Dani Tinker Sep 20, 2013.

The End of Summer

I can't believe summer is over. I know, everyone is saying that right now. This summer I worked three jobs: sailing instructor for a women's sailing program, parks & rec summer camp director, and…Continue

Started by Ann Courcy Sep 11, 2013.

Explore the Great Outdoors with Hike & Seek

Event: Hike & SeekDates: Fall 2013 (varies by location)Locations: Chicago,…Continue

Started by Dani Tinker Sep 10, 2013.

Free Parent/Activity Resources

Kids are already curious and fascinated by the natural world. Growing up I was under the impression that I was the best bug catcher in the world. I spent hours out in the backyard collecting potato…Continue

Tags: environmental, education, resources

Started by Dani Tinker Aug 13, 2013.

Family Nature Club Leader Receives Award! 2 Replies

One of our very own family nature clubs, Austin Families in Nature, received the John Covert Watson Award for Vision in connecting…Continue

Started by Janice Swaisgood. Last reply by Janice Swaisgood Aug 12, 2013.

NFN Webinar: May 30th at 9:00 am PT 1 Reply

Now accepting RSVPs for next week's Natural Families Network Webinar!Topic: Family Nature Clubs and Organizational Partnerships: When, Why and How?Thursday, May 30th at 9:00 am PT/12 noon ETThe focus…Continue

Started by Janice Swaisgood. Last reply by Nkrumah Frazier Aug 6, 2013.

Cool new product for camping (and hiking)!

Fellow campers and hikers! You should check out this cool new product that will be an awesome addition to our box of tricks! The Aquabot turns your Nalgene bottle into a little powerhouse of water…Continue

Started by Janice Swaisgood Aug 5, 2013.

NFN Webinar recording now available!

C&NN's Spring Webinar for the Natural Families Network and Nature Clubs for Families leaders was fun and informative, with great questions and comments from participants! Fiscal Sponsorship and…Continue

Started by Janice Swaisgood Aug 5, 2013.

2nd Annual Reaching Nature Connection Conference 1 Reply

Greetings Folks,The…Continue

Started by Lia Grippo. Last reply by Janice Swaisgood Jul 15, 2013.

Do you have a great book to share? 17 Replies

We all have our "favorites"... favorite places, favorite sayings, favorite food, favorite "stuff", right? It would be great for all of us Natural Families to share our favorite books that are…Continue

Started by Janice Swaisgood. Last reply by Jan Ellen Ferrigan May 3, 2013.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of C&NN Natural Families Network to add comments!

Comment by Janice Swaisgood on November 27, 2012 at 9:49am

Hi Meghan!

I just found out that today's webinar is full, but there may still be room for Thursday's webinar (12noon ET). Any chance you can make that one?

If not, I'll read your question during the Q&A time and you can view the webinar when you have time -- it will be recorded.

Hope all is well (other than your concerns of course)!


Comment by Meghan Cox Mick on November 27, 2012 at 8:59am

Hi all, I'm hoping to be able to make the webinar this evening, but in case I miss it, I have a question. I've been running my family nature club, Red Dirt Discoveries, for two years now. Attendance has significantly dropped off and I'm thinking that I need to change things a bit. The monthly outings are hit or miss and I've noticed that most families have great intentions but don't make it. I've also noticed that the parents really want to go someplace new everytime and truly "discover" places to go. That worked the first year, but now we really do have to return to the same parks.

The time and scheduling has become almost burdensome, which I hate to admit - but it is really disappointing when no one shows up. Not just for me, but my kids as well. My mailing list is around 100 and we've had good local publicity so I don't think my reach is such a problem. I'd rather take my boys and some of their friends to cool places - not on a schedule - and then use the website to report about where families can go, what there is to do, etc. My plan would still be to have seasonal outings (4 a year) and my summer camp. Has anyone else had similar struggles? I hate to give up on it but something really has to give. Any other ideas on how to make this more feasible?!

Thank you,


Comment by Suz Lipman on November 27, 2012 at 8:40am


I want to remind everyone that the first of the Natural Families Network FREE webinars will be offered today, Tues. 11/27, at 7 pm ET. The second will be Thurs. 11/29, at Noon ET. Learn what's new in the Natural Families Network, ask questions and get tips from successful family nature club leaders, from Austin Families in Nature and elsewhere. Hope to see you on one of the webinars! More info here:


Comment by Mark Yearwood on September 25, 2012 at 7:41am
Hello Everyone!
I am excited to introduce to you Kids In the Woods Initiative--K.I.W.I. As Founder & Executive Director of K.I.W.I., I hope that we can count on your support!  Please visit our Fundraising Campaign here: http://www.indiegogo.com/KIWI-fund?a=1209704
Kids In the Woods Initiative is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reconnecting children and youth to nature through adventure-play and mentoring in natural and wild outdoor spaces. Through year-round programming in Toronto's Rouge Valley Park, K.I.W.I. will take participants on a journey of "discovery from the outside in."
Why support K.I.W.I. ? 
There is a growing body of scholarly research that has linked a lack of play in natural outdoor spaces within child and youth populations to increases in diabetes, depression, obesity, poor academic performance, attention difficulties, as well as aggression and stress.  Collectively, these negative outcomes have been referred to by the best-selling author Richard Louv, in his book Last Child in the Woods, as "Nature-Deficit Disorder".  The research calls for one prescription: regular time spent playing in nature! 
In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, nature play can help increase self-esteem, self-discipline, and provide benefits for psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being.
With your support, together we can make the Kids In the Woods Initiative a resounding success for children & youth in Toronto & the GTA as they go on a journey fulfilling our motto of  "Discovery From the Outside In"!  
How Can You Help?
K.I.W.I. has launched a fundraising campaign with Indiegogo.com to help fund our innovative programming.  In recognition of your financial support, your name will be listed on our website in our "Tree of Discovery" at one of three levels.  Your kind donation of $25 will make you one of our "Budding" donors, while a donation of $100 will make you a "Spring Leaf" donor, and a donation of $1000 will make you a "Founding Branch" donor. http://www.indiegogo.com/KIWI-fund?a=1209704
If financial support is not something you can offer right now, please help us spread the word about K.I.W.I. by telling everyone you know about this project.  Don't forget to share this campaign using your social networks. 
Thank you for your time, consideration and support!
Mark Yearwood
Founder & Executive Director
Kids In the Woods Initiative
~discovery from the outside in~ ™
Comment by Margie on August 8, 2012 at 11:15am


So glad you will share the curriculum.   The Advice From Nature series is great.   "Will do" on the discussion idea.

Comment by Janice Swaisgood on August 8, 2012 at 10:11am

Thanks for sharing this Margie! I will be sharing the curriculum with our regional collaborative as well (San Diego Children and Nature Collaborative). I haven't read the whole thing yet, but what I have looked at looks great and I love that it can be done in a week. This is important as many school already have "character education" programs in place that last the whole year. 

I will also be taking a good look at the curriculum to see how I/we might utilize some of the ideas for our family nature club.

Thanks again for sharing!


PS-- You might want to start a real "discussion" ("Add a Discussion" link) about this and give folks the opportunity to share what they're using in a dynamic format here to inspire others to do the same. =)

Comment by Margie on August 8, 2012 at 9:47am

Nature clubs can be a great place to teach character lessons from nature:  http://www.yourtruenature.com/library/images/Teacher%20Curriculum/K...

Comment by Suz Lipman on July 23, 2012 at 12:56pm

Congratulations Inland Empire Kids Outdoors! 4 years strong as a family nature club! There will be a celebration tomorrow at the U.C. Riverside Botanical Gardens:


Comment by Suz Lipman on April 29, 2012 at 9:26am

Here's another blog you're going to enjoy.

THE BOND OF SHARED SOLITUDE: Family Connection in the Natural World, from Richard Louv:


Comment by Suz Lipman on April 29, 2012 at 9:05am

Hi Everyone,

I think you'll be interested in this new blog from Robert Michael Pyle:

BACK TO THE SUMMIT The return and rise of family nature camps.



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