Hi Nature Lovers,
People have forgotten the grounding art of taking a walk.
It was on a simple stroll in the park on a Wednesday afternoon that I heard one of the 4th grade students exclaim, "This is the best day in the park EVER!" This enthusiasm for taking a simple walk startled me, not because I wasn't having a lovely time as well, but because I realized that walking with no destination or final goal is unheard of for many children these days. Prior to this particular outdoor adventure, I was pondering the schedule of activities, destinations, points of curiosity, and quotes to read before the walk to maximize the group's engagement with the landscape. As much as I love a breathtaking view to behold, a quirky tree to show the group, or a awe-inspiring literary connection to what we are seeing in the park, I realized that I am taking all of the spontaneity, whimsy, and FLOW out of this exploration. These children need to experience a good, old fashioned WALK. No destination. No set amount of time. No restrictions on when you can chat with your friends. I simply invited 20 elementary students to take a stroll in the park with me and it was lovely.
Taking a post-dinner stroll around the block was an evening event for my family, allowing us to stretch our legs, snoop on our neighbors, and see what has changed in the natural landscape since the last time we took a loop around the neighborhood. It's no surprise that this simple activity seems rather antiquated in today's fast paced society. Our days feel like they our overflowing, our to-do lists are endless, and people's phones are now like mobile work desks. Why would anyone take the time to travel from Point A to, well, no point? One might say it's pointless!
I'm going to propose a challenge to help resurrect this ritual I hold so dear and truly helped me as a child connect with my family and my community. Here it is :
TAKE ONE WALK EACH DAY WITH YOUR CHILD FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK.
That's it. It can be a 10 minute stroll or a 3 hour trek through various boroughs. No destination. No phone calls or texts. No running errands. Walk slowly, chatting about the day, observing the world around you. Create a new family tradition that connects you to your neighborhood, your natural landscape, and each other!