There is more and more concern that children do not get enough time outside in nature. Richard Louv’s 2005 book “Last Child in the Woods” sparked a fire with parents, health professionals, educators and others. Louv coined the term nature-deficit disorder for our youths’ disconnect from nature while suffering from the lack of unstructured, imaginative play.
On May 15th in Newcomb, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), the Children in Nature New York (CNNY) and Newcomb Central School will present the first annual Get Out and Play! Conference.
According to Erin Vinson, co-event coordinator and educational specialist at SUNY-ESF, the day-long series of workshops will provide training and development for anyone working with children from professionals in a formal setting like organized sports, scouting, youth programs, day and overnight camps to childcare providers as well as nonprofessionals.
“This is the first year for what we feel is an exciting opportunity,” says Vinson. “My colleague Paul Hai was attending a sports conference when the idea started to form for this series of workshops. He is also very involved in the Children in Nature New York.”
Children in Nature Network is a grassroots movement to reconnect children and nature.
“The basic goal is to help guide people that currently work with children about being outside in nature and teaching those instructors how to engage children to stay active in different ways,” continues Vinson. “The idea is for less structure and infusing the idea of age-appropriate competition. There will be different lessons and coach training throughout. This is an opportunity to look at new games, activities and free play for children. It isn’t just about organized sports either. There are workshops on nature-based play that is not as structured. The three different sessions have separate lessons that anyone working with children will benefit from greatly.”
The Get Out and PLAY! Conference will include professional presenters and educators from a variety of different backgrounds.
Elizabeth Lee, as a licensed Adirondack guide, will lead sessions on nature-based play from her experiences teaching recreational and educational programs and actively playing outdoors for over 50 years.
John LaRue is the president and owner of Back2BasicPlay, Inc. His workshops will focus on new games and Futsal, a soccer variation. He has traveled throughout New England and Eastern New York helping communities create unique play spaces as well as advocating the use of games and cooperative-based play to promote character education growth and healthier lifestyles in children.
Bill Sampaio is the National Director of Futsal Coaches – USFF. He has played and coached both soccer and Futsal at high school, college, as well as at the amateur and professional level. Sampaio uses Futsal and soccer to help children develop their self-esteem to a higher level. He will also be leading seminars on new games and Futsal.
Timothy Donavan is the Executive Director of SUNY Youth Sports Institute (YSI). YSI training provides evidence-based methods and tools for adult leaders in organized youth sports. Donavan will lead the Youth Coach Training sessions.
For our family playing out in nature is part of our everyday life. My husband has been taking families and young adults out into the Adirondack backcountry for the past 25 years so our children are fortunate enough to feel that being in the woods is just part of their playground. This weekend they played in the yard and surrounding woods and never once came to ask me to entertain them. They were busy climbing trees, inventing games and creating an imaginary world that I was not part of. The only time I was asked for help was to get the pine pitch off of my daughter’s hands.
The Newcomb Get Out and Play! Conference will take place on May 15. For registration information please call Erin Vinson at (518) 582-4551 Ext 116. The conference fee is $10, which includes lunch and is open to the public.