The vision of the San Diego Children and Nature Collaborative is that all early childhood centers, schools, and not-in-school settings will have natural play areas, and children will spend 60 minutes of unstructured time outdoors in nature every day. Families will increase the amount of time they spend outdoors in nature, and every community in the county will have easy access to a family nature club. Parks will have natural play spaces and children will be encouraged to explore natural areas surrounding the more traditional play areas.
Families in Nature
San Diego Children and Nature’s efforts to enhance opportunities for families to connect their children to nature are led by Family Adventures in Nature (FAN). Inspired by Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, this “family nature club” helps families get nature back on their calendars with a variety of opportunities each month in and around the San Diego region. FAN typically offers 2-3 outdoor adventures per month on the weekends plus a variety of weekday outings. Adults are encouraged to follow their children’s lead in nature, fostering their natural sense of wonder and awe.
In addition to the overall FAN group, there are several “Nearby Nature Community Networks” that meet within the same geographical region each week:
- Central Wanderers, meets in the College-Rolando area
- Encinitas Explorers meets in Encinitas and surrounding areas
- Nature’s Playground meets in and around Scripps Ranch
- O’side Trail Tribe meets in and around Oceanside
- PB Peregrines meets mostly in the Pacific Beach/Clairemont areas
- Pequeños Exploradores (bilingual Spanish)
- Sense of Wonder Wednesdays, meets in the South Bay Area (bilingual Spanish)
- Thursday Trekkers meets in and around Mira Mesa
- Urban Canyoneers, meets in the Balboa Park area
- Wilderness Wednesdays meets predominately in the Scripps Ranch, Rancho Penasquitos, and Poway communities
Contact Janice at gro.erutandnanerdlihcnull@ecinaJ for more information and how to start up a group “nearby” your home! We’d love to help you with resources and mentorship, and we hope to see you and your family out in nature soon!
Nature at Home
How can we create the world in which all children play, learn, and grow with nature in their everyday lives? Start at home!
- Take time with your young children, starting with these ideas from Green Hearts.
- Put a piece of carpet or old non-rubberized bath mat on dirt, and keep it wet. After a few weeks, turn it over and see what lives there!
- Start a compost bin, as children love worms!
- Develop a backyard habitat with native plants; click here for more information!
- Add native plants to your yard or garden, more information about gardening with native plants at http://www.cnpssd.org/horticulture/index.html
- The Nature Clubs for Families toolkit, developed by the national Children & Nature Network (C&NN) describes how several families can plan together for nature activities.
- Natural Families initiative, by C&NN.
- Where Nature Meets Story by Sara St. Antoine, assembled for C&NN, with activities, relevant books, and stories for kids of every age.
- Green Hearts booklet outlines many activities for young children in nature.
- Family Nature Groups Pilot Project Report, survey of active families.
- Report on Nature Fun Area at the Kids First Fair, MCB Camp Pendleton on April 28, 2012.