Why Does Nature Matter?
I grew up spending vacations travelling up and down the east coast from Canada to Florida in the back of my parents' baby blue 1970s Econoline camper van. Looking back, I suspect they'd both be arrested by today's standards (there were no seats in the back, let alone seat belts!), but all I have are fond memories of days spent on the beach, hikes in the woods and nights spent around the campfire with my family.
When our children were born, my husband, Kelly, and I knew that spending time in nature and being good stewards of the environment would be among our family's most important values and we made it a point to get our little ones out in nature as soon and as often as we could. As they grew, it was hard to miss the joy that being out exploring among the trees, streams and wildlife of central Texas brought them, and it was a wonderful escape for the entire family. Our weekend nature adventures soon became our favorite part of the week, and I was inspired to share these experiences with other families.
Nature Playdate began as a small, informal gathering of friends who enjoyed being out in nature with their young children. With the enthusiasm and dedication of our member families, Nature Playdate has grown quickly and we look forward to welcoming more new families and sharing all the gems that Austin has to offer.
By joining families together in the outdoors, it is my hope that we can create a vibrant community of "nature families" and share all the benefits of time spent in nature throughout our communities.
~ Jennifer Evans
The physical and emotional benefits of time in nature are now well-known. Studies show that children who play outside:
Are healthier physically and mentally
Do better in school
Have higher self-esteem
Have good self-discipline
Feel more capable and confident
Are good problem solvers
Are more cooperative with other children
Are more creative
Feel connected to nature
Will be tomorrow's conservation leaders
(Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife in partnership with the Children & Nature Network. Read More.)
The mission of Nature Playdate is to foster in kids a love and understanding of nature through family-centered environmental education, play and exploration.