Time outdoors is a vital part of life for all people, of all ages, everywhere. I'm passionate about getting kids to be outdoors and encounter nature, and about ensuring that there will always be a wild outdoors for the children of the future. This blog will be about our experiences camping as a family, the growing movement to get kids outdoors, finding nature in the city (there's a lot more than you might think!), and taking action to protect the earth. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

Book Review: Wild with Child

I received Wild with Child: Adventures of Families in the Great Outdoors as a birthday gift. It's a very readable collection of short essays and personal narratives by parents about exploring nature with their children. The stories run the gamut from rock climbing and hunting with pre-schoolers to camping and climbing trees with almost-grown teenagers, and everything in between. The quality of the writing is uniformly high, unusual for an anthology. Most of the families represented are of the two parents of opposite genders variety, but the children are boys and girls of all ages. On the author/parent side, women outnumber men about two to one. A common theme is that being outdoors with your children is a two-way experience, adults learn as much from children as children learn from adults, and often the child we introduced to nature eventually surpasses us in knowledge. Wild with Child is an enjoyable read that really brings home the endless variety and range of ways to enjoy outdoor adventures with children of all ages. To quote the introduction, "There are wonders waiting and memories to be made."

Although this is not an advice or how-to book, there is a short list of recommended books and websites for outdoor families at the end.

Calendar of Free Public Human-Powered Boating Events

The New York City Water Trail Association, a consortium of local boating and waterfront groups, has an online event calendar that lists hundreds of free human-powered boating and other waterfront events. If kayaking in the East River or Jamaica Bay sounds like your cup of tea, check it out! It's a Google calendar, so you can subscribe. They also have a mailing list with regular updates about waterfront access and environmental issues.

Strange Creek Music Festival 2012

We had a lovely time this past Memorial Day weekend at the Strange Creek Campout. This was the festival's tenth year. We also went in 2007 and 2008, and in 2009 went to the Wormtown festival at the same place in the fall. The highlight of the event (besides the music) is the river which borders the site, at least as far as the kids are concerned. The property is actually a summer camp when it isn't hosting music festivals, and includes a playground, cabins, woods, and fields. There seem to be zillions of birds.

Site Update: Listing of Campsites

I haven't posted anything recently because I've been working on another feature for this site: a list of campgrounds with detailed information about their attractions and amenities. Basically, I'll be listing all the places we've been, which are all within about a 4-hour drive or less from the city. (Well, all except the two places we stayed while in Europe.) For now, the Places We've Been page lists everywhere we've camped since Tree Kid was born (Fall 1999).

Saturday, May 5th Is "I Love My Park" Day

This weekend is I Love My Park Day, a statewide event to enhance the state’s parks and historic sites and bring visibility to the park system's needs. Volunteers will clean up park lands and beaches, plant trees and gardens, restore trails and wildlife habitats, remove invasive species, and work on site improvement projects.

The 2012 New York State Camping Guide is Now Available

New York State is blessed with 178 state parks from the Finger Lakes to Long Island that offer a wide range of scenery and experiences. Harriman State Park, just 40 miles northeast of the city, is the second largest park in the state with over 200 miles of hiking trails, three beaches, and 31 lakes and reservoirs. Harriman offers two campgrounds—the Sebago Cabins open April 20 and Beaver Pond campground opens April 27. Beginning this weekend, camping is open at Clarence Fahnestock State Park, roughly 60 miles north of the city.

A Quick Walk in the Park

We went for a short walk in Prospect Park yesterday afternoon because the boys wanted to show me a cool tree hideout they found the day before. It's a large hollow tree on a hill on the south side of the park. I won't be more specific because what use is a spy base that everyone knows about?

Even on such a brief excursion, we spotted several different kinds of birds, including a hermit thrush, grackles, northern shovelers, coots, redwing blackbirds, and of course the usual mallards, Canada geese, swans, sparrows, pigeons and starlings.

Do You See Yourself in This List?

There's a terrific article by Richard Louv over at Children and Nature Network, titled "You're part of the new nature movement if..." Chances are you'll find something there that resonates, whether your connection to nature is spirituality or productivity, and whether you're trying to connect nature and people in the form of yourself, your children, your employees, or the public.