|Honeysuckle on a wet morning|
Small groups of kids will hike down to a stream a bit less than a mile from the main camp. We will hop over vernal pools and get muddy and wet. We will catch crayfish and frogs, perhaps a turtle. Some will complain that the walk is “too long.” Some will be amazed at finding a crayfish. Some will jump right in and have caught several before their time is up. Some are more timid and will be content only to peer at the little lobsters that I keep in a bucket until we release them. If we catch a salamander or a millipede, I will show them how to let it walk across their hands.
These are all kids whose parents have the means to send them to camp for a week. Some will have traveled abroad or gone to the Grand Canyon, but I have yet to find any who know much about their own backyards or the forests near where they live. Most never get the opportunity to play outside on their own. It’s pretty sad, and it causes me no little amount of worry. I worry because their lack of knowledge of the natural world does not bode well for the stewardship of our planet when it is their turn at the helm.
We will be gone by then, those of us who grew up with our hands and feet in local streams, who haunted small patches of woods after school. The world will be theirs to do with as they will. It’s unlikely my efforts will make much difference in the long run, though it’s an effort I feel I must make regardless. To do nothing is to give up and surrender. And so I do what I can, trying to fan the flames of hope that perhaps it will make some difference to some child, on some day.