Earlier this week I organized a family hike for my son’s outdoor club at school. The day was beautiful and the kids energy was high. Before we even started the hike the kids were off and running (we had children ranging from 2 to 7 years old) but I managed to wrangle their attention for a few minutes when I asked them to find items from the forest floor: acorns, leaves, rocks, sticks, flowers, that we could use to make a gift for the forest. In a matter of moments I had a pile of leaves and rocks and sticks in my hands and kids showing me different leaves they found. And then they were off and running again. When we neared the end of our hike I asked the kids to help me make an offering for the forest, so we created a little mandala of sorts. I asked the kids ” do we all live in a house or a home?” They all said yes. Well I said “the forest is a house and home to animals and birds and that we should thank the forest for letting us visit. It is a living breathing thing that provides food and shelter for other creatures.”
I picked up this tip of making an offering to the forest from the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and I think it is such a great way to connect with nature in a different and fun way. It’s hard to say what kids will absorb but they definitely love finding and collecting things in nature, and even better making something out of it.
When I walk with my kids in the woods I see how easily they connect with nature, while I, the adult, must consciously choose not to use a walk in the woods as a pretty backdrop to the never ending chatter of to-do lists and planning for the future that goes on in my head. I think one of the most important things we can do for kids is to help keep the love, wonder, joy, curiosity and awe for nature alive. To have nature as your companion for life, is to never be truly alone.