Natural Families

Welcome to the virtual gathering place for Natural Families.  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. 

Location: Worldwide!
Members: 238
Latest Activity: Jul 13


The Natural Family's forum is 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 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 home page and throughout the larger Children & Nature Network website.

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

Discussion Forum

Workshop for Family Leaders: Nurturing Children, Ourselves, and Nature

Dear All,    We are launching a new program supporting adult teachers and facilitators of nature and learning experiences. We begin with a workshop on October 7, 2017 in White Plains, NY:Nurturing…Continue

Started by LoraKim Joyner Jul 26, 2017.

***Raising Awareness of Family Nature Clubs via Instagram***

Hello everybody! I'd like to invite you to participate in a new project to raise awareness about Family Nature Clubs. To participate, just start tagging your Instagram posts with #familynatureclub.…Continue

Tags: media, awareness, natural, families, social

Started by Jason Sperling Jan 22, 2016.

Learning at a Dairy Farm great time learning and exploring at our local dairy farm. www.naturebec.orgContinue

Tags: learning, nature-based, farm, dairy

Started by Deanna Fahey Nov 29, 2015.

Rediscovering "Where Nature Meets Story" 4 Replies

In my search for good nature-based literature for my 6 and 8 year old boys, I recently rediscovered a fantastic resource we have right here with C&NN. Where Nature Meets Story has reignited my…Continue

Started by Janice Swaisgood. Last reply by Deanna Fahey Nov 6, 2015.

Children's and Teen Health Summit

Our very own Cheryl Charles will be presenting at the ONLINE Chiildren and Teen Health Summit that begins Monday, November 3rd! The event is online, and  you can listen whenever you want during that…Continue

Started by Carla Atherton Oct 31, 2014.

Raising Girls to Know Inner Beauty

This morning I was getting my haircut at a salon downtown, and I started looking around the room. All of the available reading material consisted of either beauty or home-cooking magazines. I was…Continue

Tags: Inner, Beauty, Health, Women's, Raising

Started by Emily Kent Sep 15, 2014.

Party in Nature With Your Kids

Looking for a fun and meaningful activity for kids this summer?Check out what could be the FEEL GOOD video of the year! It is…Continue

Tags: sing, connectedness, connected, dance, nature

Started by Dave Room Jul 18, 2014.

Need a way of getting the kids out into nature? 7 Replies

Hi all.Just wanted to let you know of a way to get kids out there in nature. It involves a smart-phone so that may just be the encouragement they need!I've recently created a resource (…Continue

Tags: learning, nature

Started by Stephen Bradley. Last reply by Stephen Bradley Jun 4, 2014.


Attention Family Nature Club Leaders and Zoo-Lovers!There is a wonderful grant opportunity that would foster a partnership between your Family Nature Club and your local AZA accredited zoo/aquarium!…Continue

Started by Janice Swaisgood May 10, 2014.

Kids to Parks Day - May 17th! 3 Replies

Hey there Natural Families and Family Nature Club Leaders!Wanted to be sure you are aware…Continue

Started by Janice Swaisgood. Last reply by Julie Osborn Garner May 4, 2014.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Natural Families to add comments!

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  All the best, Janice

Comment by Ken Schmaltz on January 20, 2012 at 10:42am

I saw this thread, followed some links, and ended up at SD Children & Nature. Sometimes I'm amazed at how far ahead the movement to get kids and families into nature is in the U.S. In Canada we keep telling ourselves we have an abundance of natural wealth, but we lack solid initiatives and collaborative groups to actually get kids out. Of course we have grass roots play groups and such, but nothing that compares to an organization like SD Children & Nature that brings together all those groups in a single region to leverage expertise and resources to get more kids out. I'm looking at starting a social enterprise to get kids out to the Canadian Rockies, and will see if I can incorporate this approach. 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.

Comment by Kari on January 20, 2012 at 10:41am


Nice to connect with you.

 I will post about for sure post it on I will post it here too, if I have time .

Outdoor Valentine ideas I have already posted about : but will share more during the day.

If you have your own blog we are also doing an Outdoor Valentine link up, too , Feel free to join

Theny you  know Michele and  ?

Comment by Janice Swaisgood on January 20, 2012 at 10:29am

Hi Kari.

Family Adventures in Nature isn't a company either, grassroots just like you with all volunteers! That's what caught my attention -- your group seems to have a nicer website as we just use Facebook and Meetup -- but we are both grassroots. When I mentioned asking if our "leaders" wanted to participate, it would be just as much to learn from everyone as to share their experiences. I still think it would be great if you'd write a blog here recapping some of the highlights so even those of us who can't participate in the chat could still learn! =) Take care,  Janice

Comment by Kari on January 20, 2012 at 10:19am

We have many groups in not just one.We are a blogg network with many outdoor playgroups and bloggers. We have our own network (-:

What is specially about this is just parents and it is grassrot and it has been  done without any grants.

This chat is for parents that wants to  do an outdoor playgroup or are doing one. It is not for companies.

Thanks but we are not looking for contributors. I have done many webinars and workshops and how to embrace the weather.

'm Norwegian and I grew up with the saying No bad Weather Only bad clothing,We have many resources on our site about how to dress for the weather and activities. Our content is based on the best best practice  from Scandinavian countries because of the outdoor culture in schools,Early Childhood  and family life.

Cheers Kari

Cheers Kari

Comment by Janice Swaisgood on January 20, 2012 at 9:56am


I agree with John -- way to go! I'd love to participate but won't be able to this Monday. Please do keep us informed as to the outcomes and any more discussions you may have! Would you consider writing a blog here on Nature Clubs for Families after the discussion on Monday, highlighting what you all do for your outdoor playgroups and your Valentine Day ideas? Our family nature club, Family Adventures in Nature San Diego, has quite a few "nearby nature clubs" that are essentially outdoor playgroups coupled with short hikes and lots of adventuring (one of them is actually called "Nature's Playground"). I'll forward the info on Monday's chat to them to see if they might be able to participate as well...  Good luck and please do keep us posted! Best, Janice

Comment by John Thielbahr on January 20, 2012 at 9:41am


Way to go!  Using social media is not my strong suit but kudos to you and your group for giving this a try to expand our network beyond C&NN Connect.  I will send this to Margaret Rietano who works with kids afterschool getting them outside regardless of the weather.  She started a new company called The Elements in Washington, DC.  She may not have time but she would be a terrific contributor.  All the best,  John


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