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Today we will review chapter 3 and discuss how we criminalize natural play. After reading this chapter, here are two questions that came to mind.

  1. How do we as parents criminalize natural play?

  2. Where do we need to give our children more freedom?

For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rainstorms… – Henry David Thoreau

It is funny to think that I would even consider discouraging Bear and John Brooks from playing in nature. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I have this tendency. I continue finding myself instructing them to not do things. Of course this looks differently with a 2 year old versus an 18 year old, but I would argue that it’s centered on the same principle. For Bear right now, it looks like this: Don’t run too far from me. Don’t step in the mud. Don’t climb that wall. Certainly there are times to protect Bear, but honestly a lot of the times it is really okay to let him do some of those things.

Today, more than 57 million Americans live in homes ruled by condominium, cooperative, and homeowners’ associations. – Community Association Institute

The disappearance of accessible open space escalates the pressure of those few natural places that remain. – Richard Louv

So where exactly do we need to give our children more freedom? For one, you have already done so by sending them to a rustic, overnight sleepaway camp. Summer camp is a great place to give children an extended time in nature where they can make decisions on their own and take safe risks away from us parents. As our boys get older, I want to give Bear and John Brooks permission and even encourage them to go on adventures. Whether it’s a week long backpacking trip to a remote location or letting the boys go duck hunting on their own, these are easy ways to give our kids the freedom to be in nature.

The cumulative impact of overdevelopment, multiplying park rules, well-meaning (and usually necessary) environmental regulations, building regulations, community covenants, and fear of litigation sends a chilling message to oru children that their free-range play is unwelcome, that organized sports on manicured playing fields are the only officially sanctioned forms of outdoor play are against the rules. – John Rick, Math Teacher from Scripps Ranch in San Diego, CA

So how do we criminalize play? By not letting our children do everyday, simple things outdoors that really are okay. And where do we need to give our children more freedom when it comes to experiencing nature? In lots of places— there are numerous opportunities, some of which we need to be proactive in.

They want to let their imaginations run; they want to see where a stream of water takes them. – John Rick

Copious studies show a reduced amount of leisure time experience by modern families, more time in front of the TV and computer, and growing obesity among adults and children because of diet and sedentary lifestyles. – Richard Louv