In these problems and restores the health of

In today’s world, children are spending their time in places with restricted
access to nature and the natural world. The highly dense populations of urban
areas and the increase of high-rise apartment buildings make it especially
difficult for children to be out in the natural world. In the Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children
from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv examines this issue and
demonstrates in the various chapters of the book how this lack of access to
nature is affecting our children. It is contributing to the increasing
statistics of childhood depression, ADHD, obesity, and anxiety. Going back to
nature, he argues, solves most of these problems and restores the health of the
child. In Part IV of the book titled ‘The Nature-Child Reunion,’ Louv examines
how children could benefit from taking risks in nature and how many parents
fear to let their children take risks. He explores the issues of controlled
risk, boredom, safety, beauty, hunting, and fishing, wild crafting, and how
these issues can affect the relationship between nature and children.

In Chapter 13, ‘Bringing Nature Home,’ Louv begins with an
anecdote involving a hike he and his sons took with Jerry Schad in Cottonwood
Creek, San Diego. Schad tells him he enjoys taking his son, Tom, with him when
hiking because his enthusiasm is reignited through his son. “When I take Tom
with me, I see all of this through his eyes,” Schad says (159). Louv argues
that parents believe that something should not be done with their children
unless it is done perfectly. When parents think of taking their kids into
nature as a chore, there is no joy to be derived from such activities. While it
is good for parents to learn about nature so they can teach their kids about
what they learned, it is even better if they experience and learn together with
their children.

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            Louv then looks
at the issue of boredom. Though the children of today are exposed to malls and
films and video games, they still complain about boredom because the more they
have of these things, the more they want more. Louv states that such “new kind
of boredom is one reason for the rising number of psychiatric problems among
children and adolescents,” (161). He states that parents can engender
constructive boredom by being there for their kids, turning off the television,
and finding a balance between child boredom and adult supervision. He
encourages parents to allow their kids to discover their backyards and to allow
them to take part in gardening.

Chapter 14 explores allowing children to face their fears through
“controlled risk” in nature. Unlike computers and screens which are only
visual, nature engages all our senses and children learn survival skills
through exposure to nature. Nature increases confidence in kids, Louv writes
(171). Such early exposure allows children to learn hyperawareness, to be
attentive and on guard. Just as organized sports may build character, nature,
which is more complex, must perform the same role but in more ways. Parents
are, however, afraid to let their children out in nature unsupervised. While
acknowledging the danger kids face (injuries, stranger-danger, and so on),
parents should know that they can deal with these risks. They can turn to
helpful strangers. They should teach their children not just about evil but
good as well; not just fear but truth. They should have a supportive
relationship with children because such children are not likely to be victimized.

            Parents could
teach their children about safety and beauty using nature. They can teach them
using the trick of “assessing ice,” as used in the book (177). Just as David
Sobel taught his daughter how to assess thin ice by showing her what is risky
and what is enjoyable and what is too risky, parents too can teach children how
to assess dangerous situations in a city. The risk taking in nature contains an
enigmatic quality that is more akin to the natural, instinctual, primal way man
learned for millennia. Denying kids the chance to be experience nature is to
deny them self-confidence and safety and beauty.

In Chapter 15, the author examines the way nature can be a moral
teacher. Louv recollects his experience as a child collecting turtles. When
kids are taking care of endangered species, Louv argues, “the aggregate of
good” far outstrips the destruction to nature (181). He encourages parents to
fish with their children, though fishing is declining as a pastime among young
generations. Fishing provides a much-needed link between generations. We live
in a world in which children rarely take after their parents in terms of their profession.

As a result, fishing is a skill that a parent can pass on to the subsequent
generation. Fishing, for some families, acts a something that bonds them and
glues them together. Another way children and young people may relate with
nature is through hunting, another declining pastime. States are now giving out
hunting licenses that are substantially less than in previous decades, showing
the decline in the craft. Wild crafting (sophisticated wilderness survival),
birding, and wildlife watching also offer alternative ways of interacting with nature
other than hunting and fishing. These also offer valuable lessons to children
and are ways in which families can connect.

            Louv acknowledges
the moral questions surrounding such activities as fishing and hunting. There
are the anti-fishing and anti-hunting campaigns by animal welfare organizations
such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Those who are
against hunting and fishing, however, have not proposed viable options for
these activities that can provide the same or better experiences for children
(185). The effect of outdoor sports is minimal compared to the destruction of
the environment caused by urban polluting, Louv argues. Despite the importance
of fishing and hunting, children are now engaging in these activities with
doubt and guilt over the heads. Hunting and fishing are, regardless, the last
method children can be taught the moral issues surrounding nature. Granted,
these activities are mired in a moral mess, but nature is messy. And so no
child can appreciate or know the outdoors if nature is seen through a screen or