After Halloween Scare

     I remember the days of being impressed when little kids who had just learned to speak could point out the golden arches and know it was McDonalds.  The tiniest of minds were able to distinguish the Toys R Us sign from the many others along the highway.  My children don’t live in a city and never did real well at that game.  In fact, the only way they can figure out most logos is by reading what’s alongside of them. 

     Take those same logo savvy Golden Arch seekers and put them in my yard.  "How do you know it’s a blueberry?" they’ll ask my children.  "Because it is, duh." might be a response.  Along with blueberries my kids are able to identify some pine trees, flowers, fish species and animal tracks too.  It’s what they grew up with.

     Unfortunately my children aren’t the norm.  In fact, an article in the Baltimore Sun contained an interview with Bronwyn Mitchell, executive director of the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, and this is what she had to say.

Q: Is environmental education especially important for kids?

A: Well, the average child [in the U.S.] can identify a thousand corporate logos – and fewer than 10 trees. As a culture, we’re almost completely disconnected from nature. And it’s unhealthy. Tons of studies have linked this "plugged-in" generation – where everything children do is structured and 90 percent of it is indoors – with physical problems, including obesity and emotional problems. A study out of the University of IllinoisUrbana showed that when kids play in natural areas, there’s a lower incidence of ADD. If kids aren’t outside much, they suffer more allergies. Their bodies don’t develop normal immunities.

It’s important to end what we’re calling this "nature deficit disorder."

    That’s pretty scary news if you ask me.  Our schools like to sponsor foreign exchange student programs inviting students from other countries to the United States.  Maybe we at Voyageur should offer exhcange programs for children in the cities where they come live at Voyageur to learn about trees and my children can go get a start on their 1000 corporate logos.  Then again, maybe I’ll just keep my kids in the woods for another 10 years.