Bacon Slayer and I discovered long ago that in order to keep peace and serenity in our lives, we had to spend a significant amount of time out in nature. We feel centered and at our spiritual best when hiking, biking, or exploring the great outdoors. In a nutshell, being immersed in the glory of it all is both humbling and cathartic. Our children noticed a difference in themselves, too. The farther away we were from the hustle & bustle, the calmer we all felt. This feeling of completeness in nature was the catalyst that helped drive us to seek a different way of life, and move Up North where we could walk out our front door and be surrounded by creation, rather than concrete. Right around the time that we were writing our family mission statement, I was driving in rush hour traffic in the big city, and I happened to catch an interview with child advocacy expert Richard Louv on NPR. He wrote a book called “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.” In his book, Louv explored the societal trend of children becoming increasingly disconnected from their natural world. Instead of exploring the outdoors, hiking, and building forts, children were more likely to engage in highly structured “camps,” sports activities, or plugged into video games and television. Rarely were children being left to their own creative devices. He presents evidence of the increase childhood obesity and attention deficit disorder commensurate with the decrease in unstructured, active, imaginative play. Put simply, many children were not playing outside, and their bodies were suffering for it. Louv further argues that “thoughtful exposure of youngsters to nature can… be a powerful form of therapy for attention-deficit disorder and other maladies.” Now I am not saying that everything can be cured by walking out your front door, but as a parent, I can definitely tell when my boys need to be run outside like puppies. Their little bodies crave being outdoors. They need to be active. They need to explore. I have a son that knows himself well enough to know when he needs to get outside. He’ll say “Hey, Mom! I have so much pent-up energy today. Mind if I run a few laps around the yard before dinner?” This from my formerly colicky baby who already spends hours outdoors every day as it is. But I will say that kids need time to explore and make their own path. They need to build forts. Kids need time to hike… …and reflect as they wander. And perhaps most importantly, children need time outdoors to just be.