Kids & nature- it’s a big deal.
I’m always probing the depths of the internet to find potential venues for promoting my series of children’s fly fishing books, and recently I came upon an organization whose goal is very much that of Olive the woolly bugger: The Child & Nature Network. The C&NN exists to encourage and support the people and organizations working nationally and internationally to reconnect children with nature. I’ve just begun to explore what the group has to offer, but I am greatly impressed thus far.
So what does this have to do with my books? Well, everything.
On the surface, my fly fishing book series for kids may just appear to be children’s stories set against the backdrop of fly fishing. While true, there’s much more to them than that. The intent of my books is to introduce kids to fly fishing through a series of fun stories that are both educational and entertaining (call them “edu-taining” if you will). For kids lucky enough to hail from an angling family, no encouragement is needed to get them outdoors with a fly rod in hand. But kids who may not have the guidance of an adult angler in their lives are really the ones who stand to gain the most from my books. In other words, my books are for all kids (and frankly, for adults as well). But the goal of my books is also bigger than just fly fishing – it’s about getting kids outdoors.
As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, according to a study by the Outdoor Foundation fishing is the #1 “Gateway Activity” to launching kids into many other outdoor pursuits such as camping, hiking, boating, etc. All are excellent ways to get kids away from their video games, off the couch and into the great outdoors for some good, old-fashioned recreation. There’s a book available by Richard Louv titled, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder that speaks to the lack of outdoor activity facing our youth today. Louv’s book won a 2008 Audubon Model and has inspired Leave No Child Inside initiatives throughout the country.
Aside from getting kids outdoors and instilling in them an appreciation for our natural resources, outdoor activities are good for a child’s health. Michelle Obama is promoting her national effort to fight childhood obesity, and on April 9, 2010 hosted the White House Childhood Obesity Summit as part of her work with the recently formed Childhood Obesity Task Force and it’s accompanying “Let’s Move” campaign. C&NN is advocating that outdoor play go one step further to involve outdoor play in nature. Being able to roam around the outdoor environment is an enriching experience that brings with it many physical and emotional benefits. Please read the entire article by Suz Lipman of the Child & Nature Network.
According to a report by C&NN, children are smarter, more cooperative, happier and healthier when they have varied opportunities for free unstructured play in the outdoors. I interpret that to mean if you take a kid fly fishing where they can experience a natural setting, walk along the banks of a stream or lake and learn about bugs and fish and other wildlife that benefit from clean water, that child is going to be smarter. I always thought fly anglers were an intelligent bunch and now I know why!
“Protecting America’s Great Outdoors and Powering Our Future” is the mission of the US Department of the Interior. On April 16, 2010 President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. The President spoke before leaders representing the conservation, farming, ranching, sporting, recreation, forestry, private industry, local parks and academia communities from all 53 states and territories. For obvious reasons this is of great significance to the fly fishing community and Phil Greenlee, President and National Chairman of the Federation of Fly Fishers, was in attendance. Read more about the Great Outdoors conference here.
To sum it all up in a nutshell, outdoor recreation is good for kids in both mind and body, and the outdoors are important to all of us. So, the bottom line is this: Get kids outside. Fishing is a great way to start them off on other outdoor adventures. While they’re outside having fun they’ll be practicing healthy habits and getting exercise. Furthermore they’ll develop an appreciation for our natural resources, which will ensure that future generations become stewards of the earth.
It may be a lofty thinking on my part, but I believe every child should start down this journey with the Olive the woolly bugger series of fly fishing books. Now, if anyone has an idea as to how I can make sure that every child hears about Olive, I’m all ears.