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: 193
Latest Activity: on Wednesday


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 Suz Lipman on April 27, 2012 at 11:32am

CONGRATULATIONS Chip Donahue, Natural Teacher and Nature Club for Families leader.*

Chip was just awarded Teacher of The Year for Roanoke County (VA) Schools. Way to go, Chip!

Here are two stories about Chip and the award:


*In addition to this accomplishment, Chip and Ashley Donahue run Kids in the Valley Adventuring, KIVA. Learn more about them through the Natural Families Network and Chip's blogs on this forum.

Comment by Suz Lipman on March 22, 2012 at 12:32pm

Have you seen C&NN's latest Natural Families Network Newsletter? Get information and inspiration about Let's G.O.! (Get Outside) Month, Family Nature Clubs and more. We hope you'll join the discussions and the activities and get outside with us!


Comment by Carolyn Hopper on February 10, 2012 at 3:23pm

As I'm new to this site, I'll check out some of the activities that other areas are doing. I'm really happy to be connecting outside of state or community borders.

Comment by Carolyn Hopper on February 10, 2012 at 3:22pm

I sent a general message out, but want to add that our Confluence Community here in Bozeman is being designed so we are getting out with the kids - We've started a tracking club and as spring is part of winter or becomes spring we'll be out in wildflowers and playing in streams while we create ceremonies that sustain all of us.  We have a core group of 4 women working on supporting the activities of the Community.

Comment by Kari on February 2, 2012 at 1:04pm


Our chat about outdoor playgroup went well, here you have a post about our chat. Some great ideas and frustrations shared (-:

I guess the most important lesson; we are many people caring about outdoor play.

Here is our link http://www.activekidsclub.com/fresh-air-living/feature/outdoor-play...

Comment by Kari on January 20, 2012 at 11:47am

We would love to hear about your group. On ActiveKidsclub.com we have an outdoor playgroup started up in your neck of the woods, too

Our outdoor playgroups are for small children and it is just about outdoor play in local parks and ravine. Not hardcore activities like you do (-: . But I do share information about activities like that on my site.  I do not do snow shoeing, cross country skiing is our family activity.

I would love to connect with you  Kari@activekidsclub.com

A great organization that do great stuff in Canada.  Check out


Cheers Kari

Comment by Ken Schmaltz on January 20, 2012 at 11:27am

Kari, I agree. We have enough organizations that promote the concept of getting kids outside and that are very good at getting grants, but don't actually do anything to get kids outside. I've been leading kids hikes as part of my other outdoor group, but the number of kids/families I can reach and what we can do is limited. Hence, Mountain Youth Experience will soon be born. There's nothing like the sight of  a mom or dad lowering their urban caution and joining their kids as they scramble up a ridge or push each other off the snowshoe trail and into 5 feet of snow.

Comment by Ken Schmaltz on January 20, 2012 at 11:17am

Thanks Janice. With my "adult" group, I lead kids hikes and snowshoes. One thing I consistently hear from parents is that they want to get their kids out, but don't know how or of any groups. We're a half-hour drive from the Rocky Mountains, and even people I climb and backcountry ski with don't know how to get their kids out! As I move forward I'll definitely be in contact with you. I'm currently trying to figure out which non-profit status will provide the greatest liability protection for directors, insurance costs for people who organize hikes, etc. (Mountain) lions and frost bite and bears! Oh my!

Comment by Kari on January 20, 2012 at 11:15am


Ken, as grassroots who started in Toronto. I feel a little of the problem is how Canadian non-for profit looks at grassroots and entrepreneurs. 


I have had  successful collaboration south of the border but not so many here in Canada. In meetings with Non For Profit Organization in Canada  it is more how to get grants and not so much about getting kids outside.


BTW this is a thread for getting families outside: in my mind the most important we can do to get more kids outside are organizing Nature clubs and Outdoor playgroups My heroes are not businesses or NFP organizations but organizers of Nature Clubs and Outdoor Playgroups.

BTW I live in Toronto, Canada


Comment by Janice Swaisgood on January 20, 2012 at 11:07am

Good deal Ken.

I'm very involved in SDCaN as well as having started up Family Adventures in Nature, and would love to work with you as you push forward in your endeavors. You stated it very well with "If we all work together, more kids win. If we work separately, duplicate effort and aren't efficient in the use of our resources, kids get left inside." My personal interest is of course in connecting families to nature, mostly through family nature clubs. I'd be happy to talk with you about SDCaN and/or family nature clubs anytime! You can email me at Janice@FamilyAdventuresinNature.org  All the best, Janice


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