NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The “imperative call to action” (Nick Offerman) for parenting tough, curious, and competent kids who feel at home in the outdoors, from the New York Times bestselling author and host of the TV series and podcast MeatEater
“A revelation for families struggling to get kids to GO OUTSIDE, or to just stop using the darn smartphone.”—Michaeleen Doucleff, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Hunt, Gather, Parent
In the era of screens and devices, the average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors, and children are no exception. Not only does this phenomenon have consequences for kids’ physical and mental health, it jeopardizes their ability to understand and engage with anything beyond the built environment.
Thankfully, with the right mind-set, families can find beauty, meaning, and connection in a life lived outdoors. Here, outdoors expert Steven Rinella shares the parenting wisdom he has garnered as a father whose family has lived amid the biggest cities and wildest corners of America. Throughout, he offers practical advice for getting kids radically engaged with nature in a muddy, thrilling, hands-on way, with the ultimate goal of helping them see their own place within the natural ecosystem. No matter their location—rural, suburban, or urban—caregivers and kids will bond over activities such as:
• Camping to conquer fears, build tolerance for dirt and discomfort, and savor the timeless pleasure of swapping stories around a campfire.
• Growing a vegetable garden to develop a capacity to nurture and an appreciation for hard work.
• Fishing local lakes and rivers to learn the value of patience while grappling with the possibility of failure.
• Hunting for sustainably managed wild game to face the realities of life, death, and what it really takes to obtain our food.
Living an outdoor lifestyle fosters in kids an insatiable curiosity about the world around them, confidence and self-sufficiency, and, most important, a lifelong sense of stewardship of the natural world. This book helps families connect with nature—and one another—as a joyful part of everyday life.
"Kids need to understand that they are not above, outside, or apart from their physical environment," writes Rinella (The Meateater Guide to Wilderness Skills and Survival), host of the MeatEater TV show, in this gem of a guide. He begins with a "prescription" for how readers and their families "can begin to see nature eye-to-eye," which involves parents leading by example and, if needed, starting small, such as with treks in the yard, the local park, or even on an apartment building's balcony. He suggests a bevy of activities: there's camping (start with car camping), foraging (fun because of kids' "natural curiosity"), gardening (which teaches kids "patience and hard work"), fishing (an "incredible relationship-building and mentoring tool"), and hunting (with the thoughtful acknowledgment that it might not be for everyone). Rinella's enthusiasm for outdoor activities is contagious, and he offers plenty of fun stories from his own adventures with his family, as when, while on a berry-picking outing to stock the freezer, Rinella discovered that his youngest was feeding his crop to the dog. As useful as it is charming, this should go a long way toward convincing readers to get up, gather the family, and enjoy what nature has in store.