Posts Tagged ‘No Child Left Inside’

“Why Kids Need Nature”: WE AGREE

Friday, March 4th, 2011

We found a great article on the Children and Nature Network web site this morning: Why Kids Need Nature. At Sanborn we more than understand the value of kids spending time in nature, and we love being able to share more research about the importance of it with others.

I wonder what that tastes like?

Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine interviewed Richard Louv to gain more insight into why it is important for children’s well-being to spend time outdoors and how parents are able to expose their children to nature. Louv explains that time in nature can help fight obesity, depression, and ADD as well as help kids activate their brains (in a different way than school provides) and utilize all their senses. Including their sense of wonder which we emphasize in our summer camps and school weeks programs. It can be hard for parents and children to find the time and space to explore nature. Sports, clubs, meetings, homework all take time during already busy family schedules. Not many neighborhoods have the space for kids to run and play freely.

Louv explains that it is understandable that parents are hesitant to send their kids out to explore unsupervised, but that he finds more and more parents spending time outdoors with their children. We believe that not only kids benefit from nature, but adults as well! Louv states, ”Nature is good for everyone’s mental health.” It is fun for parents to get out with their children and go on scavenger hunts around the yard and neighborhood and take a break from work and for a hike in the woods. The more enthusiastic parents are, the more excited their children will be about their abilities to explore.

“Nature isn’t the problem; it’s the solution.” The Children and Nature Network recognizes the challenges parents may face taking the initiative to take their children outdoors and provide parents with local resources and ideas. We at Sanborn also try to provide resources and ideas for parents and children to reconnect with nature. Here are just a few:

Beyond 101 Nature Activities

New Adventures

Ariella and the Wild Animals

A Small Sounds Tapestry

Time for a Special Place

Hope for “Race to Nowhere”

Friday, January 14th, 2011

A group of us went to University of Colorado Colorado Springs a couple of evenings ago to see the film “Race to Nowhere“, that explores the pressures on today’s students to succeed in school and the negative health benefits these pressures have caused. A mother was inspired to make the film after seeing the unhappiness, illnesses, and stress her own children were enduring due to the pressure to be a good student. An online article in the New York Times today further explores the pressures on students and the definition of success. Does strict control determine greater success? Is success having good grades or being a good and happy person?

There were a number of teachers and parents with children at the showing who expressed their frustration at the current system and how they feel trapped to teach to tests, and assign and enforce hours of homework, regardless of what their students developmentally need. A teacher mentioned the illogic of her 1st grade grandson having an 1.5 hours of homework a night.

We were all moved at the end of the film by the lack of time students have to take a breath. Are students doomed to have no time? Are they really in a race to nowhere? one of the students featured in the film explained that schooling was a race to nowhere -elementary school is all about getting to middle school, middle school is about getting ready for high school, high school is about getting into the right college, and college is about getting into grad school. Quoting a comment in the article, “Balance, it’s all in finding the correct balance.”

There is hope! We were inspired by what we do as outdoor educators. We provide the opportunities for children and adults to learn, we teach in an outdoor setting, we empower and inspire our participants to experience the world and education in new and imaginative ways. There are places that allow students the freedom to learn in a different environment. While not all children have experiential learning trips with school or have the opportunity to go to camp, there is hope for all students. It is finding the “correct balance.” It is necessary for students to spend a few minutes outdoors in the backyard or local park, to take a break from the pressure of school, to learn about life beyond the basic subjects in school.

Campers and staff learning about animals

All the employees at the Colorado Outdoor Education Center, High Trails Outdoor Education Center, Sanborn Western Camps, and The Nature Place hope you are able to find, and help the students in your life, the balance and beat the race to nowhere.

Sanborn Western Camps: October News Update

Monday, October 4th, 2010

The Leaves are Falling Fast at Camp

We are enjoying spectacular Indian Summer days here at camp.  The golden Aspen are at their peak right now and are stunning against the bright blue sky.  We’ve been spying on the herd of elk at Potts Spring and have also seen deer, porcupines, and, of course, the fat black Abert squirrels.  Many of our summer birds have headed south and the year-round bird residents are beginning to show up at our feeders more regularly.

Our outdoor education program with sixth graders from District 20 in Colorado Springs has been underway since mid-September. We also hosted a “No Child Left Inside” open house last Saturday and were very happy to have many local families join us for a day of hikes and nature-based activities led by our staff.   We are very committed to doing everything we can to help young people connect with the natural world.  The benefits are enormous—as Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” says:  “Children who have a personal connection with nature are happier, healthier, and smarter.”

On October 15-17, we will again offer our outdoor education workshop, “Stalking Education in the Wild”.  This weekend includes a wide variety of educational sessions led by experts in the field and is open to teachers, camping staff, parents, and anyone interested in learning more about living and teaching in the out-of-doors.  Please let us know if you would like additional information on this event.

At The Nature Place, Rob Jolly and his staff are busy working with the University of Denver on a team-building and leadership development program for DU’s MBA students.  We have collaborated with DU on this program, where every MBA student spends a long weekend at The Nature Place, for over a decade.  The groups rock climb, participate in an orienteering course, and work through many team building scenarios, all of which teach values-based leadership.

Sam and his crew have finished harvesting our hay crop and have stored it safely in the barns.  The horses will be happy to have this hay when the ground is snow-covered, but for now, they are grazing enthusiastically on the sweet grass at Witchers and in the High Tor Meadow.

We are most excited about opening enrollment for another season of camp.  The summer of 2011 will be our 63rd and we are looking forward to sharing adventures, friendships and lots of fun.  We have already begun enrollment, and additional enrollment information will be going out throughout the month of October.  If you know of interested families, we’ll be happy to send our brochure and DVD.  They can also request information from our website.  We hope you are enjoying the photos from the summer of 2010 which are appearing each month on our website.  We are creating a CD-ROM with a selection of these photos and plan to mail it to each camper who was with us last summer.

We hope you are having a fantastic fall!

Mountain Ridge 2, Evening 3

Friday, September 24th, 2010

We had a great day for all-days today. Everyone had an excellent time and dinner conversation was very animated as stories from the day were being shared. It seemed that every student had something special to share with the rest of his or her cabin.

Following all-days, students headed back to the cabins for a short break before recreation period. The 6th graders were able to choose between activities such as marshmallow baseball, aspen tree dodge ball, 4-square, capture the flag, 4-story tree house for one of their last activities. It was a good opportunity for students to work with and get to know students they did not have discovery groups with or were in different cabins.

After a delicious dinner (roast beef, potatoes, green beans, rolls, salad, and cherry bars), students who went to the Interbarn on Tuesday went to the Hoedown tonight, and students who went to the Hoedown went to the Interbarn tonight. As a closing conversation at the Interbarn, the High Trails staff led a discussion on the interconnections in the world.

Students are getting ready for bed now with a bedtime snack. The staff are debriefing the day with them and talking about the plan for the morning. High Trails staff will be in the cabin before breakfast, helping kids pack and clean the cabin. Students will go to the big rocks for a closing session and then head out on their last discovery group – Putting It All Together. We have had a great time with the Mountain Ridge 6th graders and will be sad to see them go.

For anyone interested in visiting High Trails, this Saturday, Sept. 25, we are having a Leave No Child Inside weekend. The High Trails staff will lead abbreviated versions of some of our favorite discovery groups and lead hikes around the High Trails property. Lunch will be provided from 1-2. We would love to see some District 20 families up here, and have the opportunity to show them a little bit of what their students experience.

National Environmental Education Week

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

As the national Environmental Education Week comes to a close, we hope you have been able to enjoy the outdoors! Just because the week is over, does not mean

According to EE Week, this is an event that “promotes understanding and protection of the natural world by actively engaging students and educators in an inspired week of environmental learning before Earth Day. Studies show that environmental education (EE) increases student achievement in many ways. By engaging students in real-world problem solving, EE builds critical thinking skills. Many educators have found that incorporating environmental themes into the curriculum results in improved performance on standardized tests and other assessments. EE has also been shown to reduce student apathy and increase motivation.”

Check out this great video about being outside: Sesame Street: Outdoors with Jason Mraz

Benefits of Outdoor Time

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Last week we participated in the Outdoor Blogger Summit Challenge, which was to post stories and ideas about the outdoors and how to get more people to play outside. OBS has posted the results, and it is pretty interesting to read other people’s ideas.

The OBS is all about getting people outside and supporting other blogs (such as Sanborn Western Camps) in their efforts to spread the word about benefits to being outside and in nature. It is always nice for us to hear about other people who encourage time outside.

There are so many people affected by snow right now – roads closed, airports closed, schools closed, work closed, have to shovel, stores closed. Instead of looking at the negatives, think about all the fun that you can have in the snow. We just posted these ideas about Snow Storm Fun.

What are your favorite outdoor snow activities?

Playing in the snow with your children is beneficial to you and them. You all get fresh air, time to use your imagination, spend time together when everyone is usually so busy, fun exercise, nature awareness. What is better than an excuse to play in the snow with children?!

Tell the DOED: Get Kids Outside and Learning

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I received this information in an email from the Sierra Club regarding the No Child Left Inside Act, which is currently being looked at by the Department of Education (DOE) for reauthorization.  The No Child Left Inside website states that the DOE is requesting comments on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, the official name of the act), as they draft new language in the bill.  The following is a sample e-mail provided by the Sierra Club that you may wish to personalize and send to the DOE at

The following is taken from the Sierra Club Website:

America’s K-12 students need your support to make sure they have opportunities to learn about the natural world, get outdoors and develop a foundation for success in the green economy.  The Department of Education is currently considering the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (a.k.a. No Child Left Behind) and we need your help to make sure that environmental education does not get left behind.

Subject:  Please Include Environmental Education in the Elementary and and Secondary Education Act

Dear Secretary Duncan,

As you consider strategies to strengthen the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, I urge you to include the provisions outlined in the No Child Left Inside Act (S.866 and H.R. 2054), which would expand opportunities for environmental and outdoor education in public schools across the nation.

Environmental education has been shown to improve student achievement across core subject areas and increase engagement in learning.  A recent major study of experiential environmental education concluded that science test scores of at-risk youth could be improved upwards of 27 percent by outdoor environmental education.

Learning in the outdoors is also known to improve critical thinking, motivation to learn, self-esteem, conflict-resolution skills, problem solving, and classroom behavior.  Time spent outdoors during the school day would also help to promote active lifestyles that can help fight the obesity epidemic that threatens our children.  Furthermore, environmental education will give our students the knowledge and skills to tackle complex problems and succeed in the green economy.

Leaving environmental education out of the administration’s priorities for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization would be a missed opportunity to improve student achievement and to address President Obama’s priorities of energy independence, a strengthened economy, and a healthier nation.

If you are sending an e-mail, address it to

For additional information regarding this bill, check out the No Child Left Inside website, the North American Association for Environmental Education site, and  the Open Congress site.

–Jessie Tierney