We have an amazing Nature Center near us. A-MAZ-ING. It’s called Ijams Nature Center, and it was started by the Ijams family back in the day. It was their home where they raised their girls, and all the neighborhood kids, on nature. I am a firm believer in Nature as Medicine. I read “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Out Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv. It truly opened my eyes to how much we’ve lost since we’ve been kids ourselves. I spent every minute I could outside, and we always went outside for a long recess (sometimes two!) I think there is a definite link with the decrease in natural play & natural spaces with an increase in ADHD, spectrum disorders, and depression.
Last weekend, we went to Quack-Ology, which was a family program all about DUCKS!
Let me back up……since he was 3, sweet boy has loved birds. He collects the plush songbirds made with songs recorded from National Audubon recordings. His first was a Black Capped Chickadee that he called Hamburger (because its “teeee-tee-tee” call sounded like Haaaaam-bur-ger to his little ears.) At some point, he was given a small plush duck, aptly named Quack, that has gone everywhere ever since, and ducks have become his passion above other birds. He thinks he’d like to be an Ornithologist, or a Duck Farmer. Maybe both.
Back to the Nature Center………I was among the first to sign up for this particular program because we have gone to their programs before and they are stellar. The guy who leads these programs, Stephen Lyn Bales, is a font of knowledge. When we got their Sunday, the first thing A does is walk in and proudly tell Lyn that when he retires, A will be taking over his job. We all laughed, but then the astounding happened.
Sitting in the front row, center, listening intently, A would raise his hand high and either have some tidbit about the duck in question, or………….he would be able to vocally imitate the duck’s call. I knew he was a natural mimic, but holy smokes………. I had no idea. He apparently gets up on the weekends and scrolls through Amazon and/or Netflix for Nature documentaries to watch if he isn’t in the mood for Star Wars, or Dragons of Berk.
Lyn, the professional Naturalist, was blown away. He knows A from summer camps at the center, but he said he had no idea all that was in his head. And that was just ducks! He has encouraged me to really foster that fascination. Afterwards, my Mom told me about an article she read about kids like A who have an obsession of sorts (I prefer fascination) and how traditional methods state ignore it, get them into as many different things as possible. This article (I wish I had the link) said to allow them to really get into it and learn as much as possible, because it might be what ultimately leads to success.
Now, ducks aren’t his only thing. He loves legos, Star Wars anything, and Nerf guns. He does have a natural affinity for the natural sciences though. And Math.
So…….my thought for any other kids out there, follow your passion, whether it’s dancing, art, hockey, writing, marine biology, or ornithology. Go for it…..!!
So back to my Nature Center…….starting this spring, we will be going to the Family Nature Club, which will meet once a month for 8 months and study a different topic at each meeting. The first meeting is Geology, and I am really looking forward to it!
At the end of the Quack-Ology, we had a Rubber Duck Race, which didn’t go as swimmingly as it could have, but the kids loved it, A was made official finish line keeper, since he had his boots on. He stood in the creek for almost an hour waiting for those ducks, who kept getting hung up on everything. Of 24 ducks, only 7 survived. (They were in fact rescued the next day by Lyn.)