C&NN Connect

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C&NN Natural Families Network

Information

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: 206
Latest Activity: Oct 14

EVERY FAMILY CAN BE A NATURAL FAMILY!

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

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.

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.

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.

new GRANT OPPORTUNITY!!

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.

Kids to Parks Day - May 17th! 3 Replies

Hey there Natural…Continue

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

Geocaching -- Awesome Outdoor Adventure 1 Reply

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. Last reply by Tania Moloney Apr 28.

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.

Comment Wall

Comment

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

Comment by Heather Kuhlken on November 27, 2012 at 12:29pm

Hi Meghan, I am one of the leaders presenting tonight and on Thursday. I just wanted to let you know that one of the things I am planning to talk about is roughly what you are suggesting that your group may move to.  I have a group of 20 families that are mostly friends and friends of friends (and a couple of families that found us on Facebook). I have everyone sign up in August for the year and collect a fee for the year per family ($200 per year per family averages out to $1 per person per outing including campouts, plus a backpack for each kid). The fee covers our expenses for the year (campsites, preserve entrance fees, etc.. - I am a volunteer). It is not high, but it is just enough that I think it helps encourage participation. If a family pays for an activity (or extracurricular), I think they are more likely to have higher attendance. That higher attendance, in addition to having a consistent group of families in and out of activities all year, has really built a strong sense of community. This is our 5th year of having our FNC structured this way and many of the families have been in the group for all 5 years, despite having middle schoolers now. I agree with Gayle that community building in the group encourages attendance and it also encourages help from other parents in the group. (I am thrilled that last month a parent in my group offered to manage meal planning on campouts now - something that was taking too much of my time, and another parent manages our group finances.) The more invested the parents are in the group, the more they will help you. The downside of how I run our group is that my reach is limited and I am not making access to nature free. Hopefully our blog will help with the reach by telling others in the area of cool outdoor activities to take their families to. As a leader and a parent of 3, I have enjoyed how our group is structured because that sense of community benefits my family as well as the other families in the group. It makes leading the group less frustrating because it is rare that no one shows up to an activity. I also try hard to get everyone to RSVP to each activity so that I know how many to expect. If only 5 people are coming, I usually move or cancel the activity.

Good luck to you and I hope you can join us on Thursday. 

-Heather

Comment by Gayle Bodge on November 27, 2012 at 10:03am

Hi Meghan,


I'm going to be in on tonight's webinar, so I don't think we'll have a chance to connect there, but I wanted to share my experiences with my nature group.

Growing up ME is just a year old and aside from monthly outings I've been focusing on building relationships with the parents (mostly moms) of the group through "Mom's Nights Out" and have really encouraged their participation in planning events and sharing resources through a group Facebook page. Input from participants is that this budding community, sense of belonging, and relationships/friendships really encourage participation because it gives families a chance to spend time with people they know (and like) and they feel more comfortable going to new places with familiar faces. And it takes some of the planning/organization work off my plate!

I hope our story may be helpful to you!

Gayle

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)!

Janice

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,

Meghan

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

Hello!

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:

http://childrenandnature.ning.com/group/natureclubsforfamilies/foru...

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

Janice,

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!

Janice

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:

http://www.childrenandnature.org/news/detail/inland_empire_kids_out...

 

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