Photo: Nature Play Day

Two darlings taking our 30×30 nature challenge and looking for crabs. (Credit: Karen Mouat via Flickr)

June 15th is Nature Play Day in Canada! So celebrate the fun of frolicking outdoors in your backyard, a local park, schoolyard, or rooftop garden with the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada.

We didn't always need for a dedicated day reminding us to play outside. When I was a kid, we were rarely inside—except on Saturday mornings when we watched cartoons from seven until noon.

On my grandparents' farm we climbed trees (ripping many pairs of pants), played horse and rider (if you were the horse you had to suck on a piece of bailer twine), and combed the creek for frogs and salamanders (a catch-and-release operation).

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Engaging in what's called "natural" play today—compared to organized sports and activities—is how we (my brother and I) learned boundaries and when to take risks.

Take, for example, my plan to wade into the creek barefoot (foregoing rubber boots) in hopes of catching more wood and chorus frogs. We ended up covered from the knee down in leeches. Being older, I cleaned the blood suckers off my brother's legs first while he screamed his head off. Lesson learned.

Concrete jungle or welcoming green space?

What's the playground like at your kids' school or your neighbourhood community centre? Research shows that naturalized playgrounds provide more variety of play opportunities, supporting social interaction and physical development. They also meet a child's individual needs according to developmental stages, learning styles, personality types, friendship patterns, and culture.

Of course, no playground is risk-free. But those that are well-designed provide opportunities for children to engage in healthy risk taking. If playgrounds are too safe, kids won't learn to assess risk.

Share your plans for getting the darlings outside on June 15th and be eligible for prizes! And don't forget to take our June 30×30 Challenge. We're asking Canadians to spend 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days to improve their lives.

Do you have fond memories of healthy, risk-taking play in nature?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

June 11, 2012

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Jun 12, 2012
6:37 PM

My two Brothers and I as kids spent a lot of time outdoors fishing, berry picking, exploring, rock climbing, just general exploring thanks to my parents who love the outdoors. I loved it and still do. Being a mother of two young daughters one being 4 and one almost 1 we spend a lot of time outdoors. My oldest spend time in the garden with me growing our fresh veggies, planting trees around our home, fishing looking for treasures as my daughter would say.

It really do make you feel great after bing outdoors in nature. As a kid exploring and doing things outdoors really opens your prospective in what is safe and what isn't. :)

Jun 12, 2012
2:29 PM

One of my fondest memories is of salmonberry picking at my elementary school, after we finished for the summer. My best friend and I loaded up on the loot — exploring "out of bounds" with some exhilaration — and then, right next to a stream, we had a mishap. Almost the whole bucket was reversed onto the ground and into the water! We gathered up what we could, washed the berries in the stream and kept on. I'm not sure that stream would be clean enough today to do that. I still go berry-picking every summer and June 15th will be prime for foraging a feast.

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