A Family Nature Club is a natural place for a strong sense of community to develop. Families are outside spending time together without the distractions of work, chores, cell phones, video games and television. They are talking to each other face to face and watching their children play and learn together. It is a natural place for connection between people to occur. It is also the type of quality time both within a family and between families that seems to be so rare these days. It is rare for a family to have time all together without distraction in our world full of screen time and constant assumed availability. It is even more rare for a whole group of families to get that kind of time together. Simply providing an opportunity for uninterrupted time (even just an hour every other week) can help families and communities develop stronger bonds. Time outside has been shown to create happier, healthier children and adults. It has also been shown to create stronger families. By taking a group of families outside to hike, take a nature walk or picnic in the park, family nature clubs can help strengthen families and communities.
In Austin Families in Nature, one of my favorite ways to bring everyone together to tell stories, laugh and sing is by roasting marshmallows over the fire pit in our back yard. It is a great activity to start the year or end the semester before the holidays. We start with a potluck dinner and usually an activity to get the kids engaged (a neighborhood nature walk, art activity, knot tying, or even squid dissection like we did this year). Then as the sun sets, we start a fire in the fire pit in the backyard. All you need is roasting sticks and marshmallows and the kids come running. They spent hours roasting marshmallows, filling themselves with sugar, singing, telling jokes, and laughing hysterically while the parents hung out and talked. Watching your kids laugh together with their faces covered in marshmallow is possibly the best way to make new friends and strengthen the friendships you’ve had forever.