Stimulate a sense of wonder and cultivate appreciation for the natural world: Support children in developing imagination through fun and engaging sensory based activities in nature.
*This challenge and activities are optimal for children ages 4-12, though they can be adapted for younger and older youth as well. The activities are great for parents and kids, kids and nannies, preschools, young youth groups, and daycares.
"Knowing how to encourage children of various ages to interact and experience their natural surroundings can be a challenge. Children may be fearful or uncertain. Care providers can be baffled by how to maintain safety while fostering curiosity and risk taking in outdoor environments. This program provides specific, age appropriate ideas which are readily usable in most natural settings. I highly recommend that parents, grandparents, care providers, teachers, and others enroll in this program so as to develop a wealth of ideas for fostering creativity and curiosity in the wild. Such activities foster development of the whole child – intellectual, physical, social and emotional growth. Have fun and learn at the same time!"
Mary Kay Helling, PhD
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies/Early Childhood Education
“If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy. It's a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it's even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it's a lot more fun."
Improved Mood, Creativity and Focus
Enjoy the many mood boosting benefits of getting outside, connecting with the natural world and being a part of a like-minded community. Studies show that children who have regular connection to nature have fewer emotional disturbances, exhibit more creativity and build resiliency, physically and mentally. There's nothing like being in contact with the natural world to develop important life skills. *The Landscape and Human Health Lab (LHHL)
Developing a deeper connection to nature is something everyone can benefit from, no matter what our age, but it especially essential for children. Anxiety, stress and hyperactive tendencies tend to melt away as children take time away from the modern man-made world and absorb Nature through all the senses. You will notice a change in your child's and your own body, mind and spirit. By taking them outside regularly, you will be offering yourself and the children in your care a foundational component of leading healthy and grounded lives.
Have the support of the Rewilding community to keep you on track with your Nature time. We're here for you! Meet new friends, groups and families who are figuring it out as they go, too. Be inspired by the experiences and posts of others. Motivate and be motivated, inspire and be inspired!
Receive access to the a community of Nature-loving parents and child caregivers from around the globe. Connect with, support, relate to, inspire and meet amazing people. Share your experiences through photos, videos and status posts. Share what works and what's challenging about getting young people outside. Get new ideas and acquire activities to help your family or group have fun in the great outdoors!
Wild Child: Rewilding Childhood was created to encourage you and your kids, either your own or those in your care, to reconnect with the natural world and your wild selves. A challenge can be a great motivator-especially for youth!- because it is fun, you get to participate with other people and it's a way to stay accountable.
The goal of this challenge is to spend at least 5 hours per week, outdoors in a natural space with your children, for a period of six weeks, without the use of any electronics (except a picture taking device) and with plenty of opportunity for unstructured play. Organized sports practices and games, though wonderful for kids in moderation, aren't in alignment with this particular challenge.
Just think of the mental, physical and spiritual benefits your family will experience during and after completing this challenge.
We encourage you to share your experiences via words and pictures so we can see what you and your little people are discovering on this challenge, and so we can learn from one another!
The team at We Are Wildness has experienced the direct benefits of spending time outdoors in wild spaces and we want everyone, young and old, to as well. There are so many benefits to spending time outdoors, across the entire lifespan.
The real question is why not? Why not get outside more? Why not connect with the natural world? Why not teach our children to enjoy time under the vastness of the sky, in the dark cool of the forest, and in the company of wild creatures? Let's do it. We hope you enjoy all the benefits of your time outside and in the wild during these coming weeks.
Outside in a natural space: parks, forests, wild spaces, gardens, your own backyard. As long as you have the open sky above you and natural beings around you, you're good to go.
For the city folks out there who might have a hard time finding a wild space or who live far from a park, try your best to find a place that feels natural and that you are attracted to. Even walking in a neighbourhood with a lot of trees and gardens can provide benefits and opportunities for your family/youth group to embrace your wild sides. Try to take the time to bike, run, or commute to a natural space as much as you can during this challenge.
Here are some simple guidelines to follow to make the most of the rewilding experience.
Turn Off Electronics:
Ideally you will not use your cell phone unless it's an emergency (we suggest putting it on airplane mode so that it doesn't ring and distract you), no iPods, headphones etc. with one exception...You can use a camera to take photos during the challenge to upload to the group and for your own enjoyment. Just make sure you capture the moment with all your senses for a good amount of time first. Don't let the camera take the lead.
Share your photos, experiences, and stories with your fellow participants. You can do this in the comments section of each activity or by joining our slack (see next section). By joining this challenge you are also becoming a part of a community and we build our community through expression and participation. We love seeing Rewilders sharing their photos on social media. We've had people share their rewilding on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, Facebook and Google+. Use hashtags so we can easily find your photos and share them with the community. We suggest using or #WeAreWildness or #rewildingchildhood or #wildchild
Please enter natural spaces with care and respect. Practice "Leave no trace" and pack out what you pack in. Try not to make too much noise so as to not disturb any wildlife or other people that may be in the area. Minimize your impact on the space as much as possible. Preserve trails and stay on them when in doubt, and don't enter private property unless you have permission. Also try to leave a place in better condition than you found it it. That means picking up garbage/recycling that others have left behind. These are all great lessons for children to learn at a young age -- and most latch onto such principles and remind their caregivers of them regularly.
Dr. Kelley Hagenbuch has been a chiropractor for 26 years, and a clinical herbalist for the last 7 of those. She graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 1988 and from the Midwest School for Herbal Studies in 2008. She practices primarily in Taylor's Falls, MN at Taylor's Falls Chiropractic, and gives presentations, plant walks and workshops in the St. Croix river valley. Find her at www.doctorweedmaster.com and on Facebook
Heidi Huebner is the founder of Bluebird Hill Homestead, an enchanted venue for nature connection classes, community gatherings, and personal healing and mentoring. She has 3 joyful daughters, who are unschooled. Heidi is most passionate about providing opportunities for people to experience a deep connection with the land, each other, and spirit. Learn more about Heidi's project on her website and Facebook page.
Michelle Simonson has devoted her life to serving children and their families in various capacities. As an entrepreneur, consultant and facilitator of parenting classes, as well as a Montessori teacher, church nursery supervisor, child care provider in private homes, and volunteer, she has worked closely with hundreds of families and devised strategies for assisting them with myriad challenges of navigating our rapidly changing world. She grew up in Minneapolis and received degrees from the University of MN and has an Early Childhood Certificate and BA (Magna Cum Laude) in American Studies with minors in Child Psychology, Women's Studies and English. Learn more about her projects on her website and on Facebook
Chelsey Bahe is a nanny and play advocate with a passion for connecting kids and nature through child directed play in the outdoors. Learn more about Chelsey's work and Nature art on her Facebook page: Take 'Em Outside.
Chantal Solomon is a naturalist with a zest for creative synergy; she has formally studied Special Education, Herbal Medicine, Film Production & Creative Writing for Youth and Creative Facilitation. Chantal loves learning & teaching about plants; she spent several years taking various permaculture & traditional medicine related courses and apprenticeships. She enjoys sharing her passion for fun nature based opportunities with Heart Seeds Nature Education Chantal naturally mentors others with youth led experiential learning. Her greatest joy comes from hanging out with plants and helping children hold their first caterpillar! Learn more about her projects visit heartseeds.org
Lucy AitkenRead writes from a yurt in a forest in New Zealand. Lucy has recently combined her history in environmental campaigning and her role as a mother to write a manifesto for families wanting to discover the wild running through their veins. "30 Days of Rewilding- find your place in nature and watch your family bloom" is now available on Amazon. Find Lucy and her family at her blog lulastic.co.uk
Heidi lives near the St. Croix River Valley in Minnesota with her husband and daughter where they tend a large organic vegetable garden, explore nature and do their best to live simply. As a wellness coach and writer, she is committed to supporting ways of being that are life-giving and sustainable for people, communities and the planet. She loves putting words together to paint pictures of ideas, as well as supporting others as they explore what it means to live well on a finite planet. Hiking through forests and across prairies, wading in streams, digging in the soil and surrounding herself with natural wonder help her stay grounded in reality. Visit her at www.heidibarr.com.
"The image of walking side by side with a child in the wonders of our outdoor world creates a profound image of nature at its best. We are all part of a natural world. Yet, daily lives full of meeting the expectations of employment, family and the crunch of “getting IT done” often betrays this fundamental connection to the roots of what is real ---indeed what is truly real . Wild Child: Rewilding Childhood is not just a beautifully designed program that guides how adults may provide children with opportunities to use their senses to explore their natural environment. It also a program that provides a way that this experience can be shared with adults, who also so deeply need this connection with our natural environment. Further, it invites adults to be present with children in the wild without directing, instructing or teaching them. It is this fundamental presence that is so vital to our shared connections with each other. It inspires us to be ourselves while also reaping the blessings of mutual joy of being with our children under the sky where the spirit of nature joins us with the beauty of our earth."
Ann L. Wilson, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate, Center for Disabilities
Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, USD Sanford School of Medicine
Professor Emerita, South Dakota State University
"Thank you for this wonderful wonderful program. What pleased me was the joy my granddaughter gets from discovering new things and the kindness and respect she shows every living thing. It seems to come naturally to her. It reminds me that destroying things is not a "natural" action to our environment but one learned later in life. I was surprised by my granddaughter's quickness in observation. She is finding and exploring things that I don't see or have tuned out. I would recommend this program, for the special moments you spend in the fresh air with your child, and the reawakening of our "innocence" toward nature. Listening to her hum and sing to trees and birds makes me feel "full" and so content. "
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
"Thank you, We Are Wildness U, for this Child's outdoor program. I am enjoying it as an adult and it hit home for me as to what I am suppose to be doing....reconnecting people to Nature and what a great place to start with our children. I was pleased with the simplicity of the program and activities. Getting to the simple basics of what Nature has to offer us and how good it feels."
Regina Weber, RN and Holistic Nurse
"I was surprised about the simplicity of tasks combined with really interesting questions! Also the challenge of going outside in the dark or even go camping. It's a very nice means for inspiration to go outside more, to focus on details in nature and to immerse yourself in it. I really love it! It will take me more than 6 weeks to do all the challenges, but this doesn't matter. It will take the time the kids need."
"This program has breathed new life into our outdoor time as a family. Our kids look forward to each new activity as an exciting adventure and we have revisited several of the activities again, as they have become fast favorites. The activities and instructions are simple to follow, yet engaging and educational. I have especially appreciated the thoughtful intentionality of blending exploratory learning with imaginative play to create moments of wonder in the wildness of the outdoors. As an adult, it's been nice to have an excuse to see (and touch, hear, smell, and taste) the world through the eyes of an eager child once again."