With American Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas not long after that, now is the time when the tube seems to be flooded with ads for toys and the department stores that sell them. While a moderate dose of tasteful consumerism isn’t all that bad, and in many cases unavoidable in the world we live in, some of these advertisements give off the wrong message.
Disguised behind the shadows of an exciting surprise trip to one of the largest big box toy retailers, is the message that shopping for toys is much more exciting and worthwhile for kids then spending some time learning about the natural environment. Or as comedian Stephen Colbert put it “Tip of the Hat to Toys R Us for reminding our kids that nature sucks”. Given the rise of social and physical ailments resulting from our tech savvy plugged in lifestyle, this is the last thing we need to be promoting to our children.
Gone are the days of old when kids only come home because they have to; either for dinner, bedtime, or to get homework done… So how do we counter it? While there are numerous environmental education programs out there, several books worth reading such as Silent Springs, A Sand Country Almanac, and The Lorax, and social movements such as Project Wild.
There is one simple answer:
Take some time this holiday season and get outside; make outdoor time a whole family thing and share the benefits together. Plan a wilderness adventure in your own backyard. Gather the lawn chairs around a fire (check municipal regulations first) and unwind from the day as you roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the flames. Basking in the warm glow as you gaze up at the night sky, it’s easy to forget your still at home…
Even if it’s just getting out for a walk for a few moments in between dinner and their favourite show, breathing in some fresh air and looking at the world around you helps remind us that there is something beyond the screen… It’s a big world out there, get out and explore it!