Another Way To Be
The law of survival states that we can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without warmth, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. But what does it really take for our children to survive in today’s world? And not only survive, but actually thrive?
Character traits such as self-confidence, curiosity, and grit are critical in children’s success. These key findings support that children need to be able to encounter and overcome failure (Tough 2012).
As parents we want to protect our children, we want to hold them in a space where it is safe to grow, and allow them to become who they are meant to be. Raising well adjusted, self-confident, and contributing individuals is essential to the survival of future generations. How can we teach them how to be safe, and how to make good choices when we lack the guidance of large-scale leadership to role model this behavior?
The message our children receive is clear. Society is not interested in investing in their future. If we want to see this much needed cultural and environmental change we will need to look to others who share our values. We need to find the village within our communities, one with mentors, elders, and authentic leaders.
The answer to this lies within our children’s experiences. At Backyard Basecamp, we recognize our responsibility in sharing another way to be in the world. What better approach then to remove all distractions, and allow them to be with themselves in a deeper more meaningful way? To guide them in exploring their own inner world, while facing real life challenges.
Too often we see children given rewards for little effort. These watered down achievements fail to offer them the deep self-confidence that arises from real risk taking, from having to work hard, and put everything on the line, including the opportunity to fail.
In order for children to grow and mature they must complete their appropriate developmental tasks. For the explorers in the garden, the stage of middle childhood, their task is to learn about the world and their place in it, for the thespians in the oasis, the stage of early adolescence, they must create a secure and authentic social self (Plotkin 2007).
Backyard Basecamp offers children in 4th through 8th grade these opportunities. Our mountaineering backpacking camps in New York’s beautiful wilderness give our youth the chance to learn the hard skills necessary to survive in the backcountry such as cooking, building shelters, and being aware of hazards, like poisonous plants and dangerous weather patterns. Successfully completing these skills empower kids with the knowledge that they can survive and are able to rely on themselves.
Not only do they learn this, but they also gain the soft skills paramount to thriving in the world, skills such as problems solving, communicating, persevering, supporting others, and self-reflecting. Together these hard and soft skills allow our children the ability to build a foundation necessary to shape the future both culturally and environmentally. This connection with nature cultivates a life long relationship. In fact studies show that children who fall in love with nature grow up to be stewards of the planet (Sobel 2008).
The time for us to write our new story is now. “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and the agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” ~Steve Jobs
Plotkin, B. (2007). Nature and the human soul: cultivating wholeness and community in a fragmented world. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Sobel, D. (2008). Childhood and nature: Design principles for educators. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
Tough, P. (2012). How children succeed. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.