Summertime Dreaming

Posted: Feb. 08, 2013


There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about “nature deficit disorder,” the notion that kids don’t get outdoors and play like their parents and grandparents once did. It’s been sad to watch, but in reality, the whole process turned on a dime. Home video games arrived, in the form of Pong and other what we now consider ridiculously simple examples, in the 1970s. As the technology improved, the games did, too, and we became more engrossed.

What was lost? Pick-up baseball games. Walking on rocky beaches, flipping over stones to look for crabs. Adventures in the woods, finding snakes, hearing the sounds of nature. Getting caught in passing rain showers on hot summer days, feeling the slight oppressiveness of humidity as the rain ended and started to turn to steam after hitting the scorching hot earth. Checking ponds for frogs. Checking brooks for salamanders. Building treehouses. Riding bikes until the sun went down.

What was lost? Unstructured play.

Nature summer camps, like the one we hold here at the South Shore Natural Science Center, offer a return to those days, a chance for a kid to get into a canoe, maybe for the first time in her life, and explore a pond; to meet turtles, owls, snakes and frogs; and yes, to even get caught in a passing rainstorm on a hot summer day.

Summer will be here before we know it. It’s up to us, as parents, as educators, as role models, to show our kids there’s more to the world than Pong – or whatever it is the kids play these days.