I just returned from the first ever Manitoba Nature Summit. This event was planned as a ‘meeting of the minds’ for the growing number of us here that are passionate about connecting children with nature.
Organizers wanted to keep it small for the first year but hoped to make it an annual event. Registrations were slow to come in and attendance was only a fraction of what was anticipated. The question is “Why?”
This event was held at Camp Manitou – convenient to the city yet still offering the back-to-nature atmosphere we wanted. The accommodations were rustic and the scenery was spectacular with all the colors of the fall foliage.
The cool evening temperatures made gathering around the campfire even more inviting. The rain on Friday didn’t dampen spirits but instead provided us many opportunities for puddle jumping and sliding down muddy slopes on our treks through the forest.
I went zip lining for the first time in my life, practiced some archery and went hiking in the dark. What a fabulous way to awaken your senses.
Many of the workshops were facilitated by members of the Wilderness Awareness School based in Duvall, Washington. We were introduced to Coyote Mentoring and the philosophy of the school. I was truly amazed – if only there were schools like this everywhere.
Our meals were provided by Diversity Catering and, in keeping with our environmental and sustainability values, most of the food was produced locally. I thought the food was marvellous and I never went hungry.
The question remains – ‘Why was registration so low?’ Were people too busy with back-to-school schedules? Was there not enough advertising? I don’t know the answer but I have a theory and to be honest, it upsets me. What if the reason they didn’t want to come was because we’d be outside most of the time – in unpredictable weather — unplugged and roughing it.
How can we mentor children to connect to nature if we can’t let go of our everyday conveniences and get out there ourselves?