Families in Nature would like to encourage you to start your own Nature Community in your school, neighborhood, or organization. A Nature Community is a group of people that explore nature together. All you need to start is 2 – 3 families to join you on an adventure outdoors. FIN is here to support you through our Guide Development Program, which will give you everything you need to take people out into nature, including access to our Ecologist School Guidebook that features over 1500 activities to do outdoors and 16 badges to earn.
Nature Communities support healthy children, families and communities by encouraging people of all ages to spend meaningful time in nature together. They can provide scheduled family time during which everyone learns and plays together outdoors without the distractions of electronics, work, and chores. The multi-age structure of a Nature Community provides opportunities for older kids to experience leadership when helping younger kids, and it encourages younger kids to learn to become leaders when they get older. Children who learn to work in a multi-age groups to solve problems are gaining valuable personal confidence and life skills, including the skills of peer to peer teaching which is one of the most effective tools for learning. Nature Communities that are for the whole family also benefit sibling bonds. Siblings can have positive time together to play and problem solve in ways that separated grade levels at school and age/gender divided sports and activities do not allow. Including all genders also allows for gender to become less of a focus, which then allows all people to feel included, regardless of their gender identity.
In a world where families are constantly over scheduled and have to “divide and conquer” to get kids to all of their activities (one parent takes one child to one place, while the other parent or caretaker takes another child to a different place), Nature Communities provide a rare opportunity for family time all together, including any definition of family that participants have. They can also provide a strong community for single parent families, as well as a respite from parenting all week, since a group of families can all work together to watch a group of kids more easily. And some Nature Communities form around a group of people that isn’t defined by family, but instead by another shared characteristic such as faith organization or neighborhood, and these are also doing the important work of creating connected, resilient communities that spend time in nature together. Adults and children both receive enormous health benefits from being immersed in nature, no matter how “wild” that nature is, close to home, in a school yard, or in a forest. And Nature Communities are an effective way to not only provide these opportunities for kids, but to strengthen families and create resilient communities by providing time together outdoors.
One of the most impactful outcomes of a Nature Community is its ability to create resilient, connected communities. Research has shown that connected communities that enjoy spending time together in nature, including parents, children and even grandparents and extended family, are physically and mentally healthier and they are more resilient to stresses such as climate change impacts. Worldwide, the first step to adapting to climate change has been identified as creating climate resilient communities that regularly spend time together outside. Nature communities engage people of all ages together in outdoor activities that promote active social learning and the development of environmental literacy. Families in Nature encourages our Guides to invite and include families from all backgrounds in our Nature Communities because we believe that these positive outcomes are even greater when the community is diverse. Creating a Nature Community is creating a climate resilient community of people who are happier and healthier because of the time they spend in nature together.