Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Every year since 1980, with one one-year break sometime in the mid nineties, I have gone camping with a group of eight graders involved in a gifted and talented class I developed. This year was no exception. We headed up north (35 people in 7 vehicles) for a great three days at the Lake Michigan recreation area between Ludington and Manistee. During those three days we pumped our own water, cooked our own food, slept in tents, used the outhouse,  and greatly enjoyed the world around us. I love the West Michigan area  all up and down the Lakeshore with the varied environments of hardwoods, pines, dunes and grasses.
Tim & Nancy hiking by Lake Michigan

One of the things I especially love doing is taking all the students on a night hike without flashlights. Many of them have really never experienced the dark.  Walking in the dark this year was especially memorable as it was a dark night: the moon had not yet arisen, but it was very clear. We stopped in the middle of the night and lay on our backs in a field looking up at a glorious sky full of stars and the students, (now mind you these are eighth grade students full of life) lay quietly without words for 10 minutes looking at the sky full of stars. When I aroused them and said: "It's time to go", several of them said; " can we stay little longer?  It's so beautiful."

Another thing I always do with the students is spend some time listening. We don't allow any cell phones or iPads or any other technological audio devices up there for the brief time we're camping up there in order to allow the students to see you and stop and listen to the world around them.  I think for many of these kids it is the first time they've really been in place where they don't hear man-made devices. Simply hearing the sounds of the wind, or of the animals scurrying, birds flying, and even their own breathing is magical.

I know I will miss my camping trips up north with kids as I think about the future in Mumbai. I also wonder if the students in India like to go camping, or  if there be opportunities for me to go and how I will connect with nature while living in the big city.   Nancy and I love to go walking in the woods or down by the lake.  We will be looking to find ways to connect to nature in Mumbai.

Richard Louv has written several books, including his best selling Last Child In The Woods, about what he calls the "nature - deficit disorder". It makes a lot of sense to me. I often think about how we will deal with it when we move to Mumbai - both for ourselves and for our students.

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