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“GEEKS in the Woods” reach out to the next generation

From the Fall 2007 American Trails Magazine

"We are a techno generation. But that doesn't mean that we have to learn everything through technology."

Josh Morrison, a 15-year old student at White Plains High School in Calhoun County, AL, noticed that his generation had lost touch with the natural world. In response to that disturbing trend and inspired by Richard LouvÕs book Last Child in the Woods and his mother, Renee Morrison, an educator for the Jacksonville State University Field Schools, Josh created a group called "GEEKS in the Woods."

Now, Josh and his friends are reaching out to their generation and promoting nature through outdoor experiences and the groupÕs website. Visit their website and see the letter Josh read at the National Recreation Forum in DC last April at www.geeksinthewoods.org.

GEEKs Letter to Atlanta Forum for More Kids in the Woods

March 9, 2007

Dear Forum:

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to tell you what we think about connecting our generation with the outdoors. We are honored that you would focus your time and energy toward us and wish you much luck and success in DC. Some of us will be voting next year and we are watching more closely than they may realize!

The first thing we want to say is that we are young but we are people. We have opinions, concerns, doubts, fears, and questions about everything on this planet including wild places in the great outdoors, obesity and health issues that include the mental state of our parent's generation because they all seem so stressed out!

Sometimes we feel like a "bug in a jar" under a magnifying glass. We appreciate that you study us and we are certain that your research is vital. But remember, you were all once young people, too. We are not a strange, unique, or newly discovered species. Whatever you really liked about nature and being outside will probably hit the mark with us in a big way as long as nature is still there!

What do we want to do outside? Absolutely nothing... unless you can show us the "YO" factor... unless you can explain how we are linked to the outdoors and the planetÉunless you can make it relate directly to our life. If you make it personal and global, we will notice!

We are primarily indoor kids. Some people have indoor cats... we are indoor children. But that doesn't mean that we can't enjoy being outside. We don't have to wear an air tight NATURE SUIT with a helmet and an oxygen tank to go out in the woods. However, some of us don't know this unless you prove it to us... and prove it again and again!

We tend to be very wary of the unknown... everything from trying to watch tv without a remote control to asking our parents to take us on a hike. We probably won't ask them, but hope they'll keep asking us because we like to be pursued!

We love Bambi and other Disney movies but if most of us saw a real deer in the real woods we'd be terrified... unless someone shows us that not only is knowledge of nature important but that WE are part of nature. We might still be afraid (because, darn! Look at those antlers!!) but we probably won't run away and we'll eventually love it.

Parents, teachers, interpreters, directors, policy makers... who ever you are, please realize that we recognize sincerity. We know when you care about what you are doing and we know when you care that we care.

When you take us outside or present a program to us, please pay close attention to our reactions and our needs. Sometimes we are hesitant to tell you. We like attention. Lots of attention. (You love us, right? Right?)

We need you to experience whatever it is that we are experiencing with us... even if you've seen it, touched it, done it a million times before. That is the magic YOU possess to capture OUR attention!

Just make it fun!

We are a techno generation. But that doesn't mean that we have to learn everything through technology. Oh, we like it, but don't think you have to make it beep or light up to get our attention.

Those of us who have crossed the great barrier and realized that nature is way cool and that being outside is "sweeeeeet!!" can tell you that the sound of the wind in the trees, the oxygen in our lungs, the song of a bird, the feel of sun on our face, the warmth of a campfire or a starry sky overhead cannot be improved through technology. Oh, it can be enhanced, but please realize that you can get our attention with the real stuff.

That is what it is all about anyway... being REAL! (Radical, Environmental, All-healthy and Longterm)

Sincerely,

GEEKs in the Woods

 

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