A lot of people these days feel like they would benefit from unplugging and getting back to nature more – but many are afraid because they don’t know how. Here’s how you can become more like the kind of person who jumps into fearless outdoor adventure situations!
Maybe you’ve seen TV outdoorsmen like Daniel Boone or Natty Bumpo who simultaneously make it look easy and make it look like something that a normal human could never do.
Or maybe you’ve fallen into the trap of Emergency Preparedness based on post-apocalyptic survival fiction like Walking Dead or The Road. I mean, who wants to live their lives like that?
In any case, you have a longing to re-engage with the outside world – but it is kind of a big, scary, buggy, sweaty world!
Fear not, budding Naturalist! The Roaming Parkers are here to help you with a whole pile of hints and advice that will have you as outdoorsy as George of the Jungle in no time!
The greatest naturalists and outdoorsmen that the world has ever known were all largely self-taught. Here’s (sorta) how they did it and how you can too!
Go outside every chance you get
Go outside every chance you get – at least every weekend. Anything you can do indoors, try it outside and see if it is better or worse.
I find that it helps to take up 2-3 different outdoor activities, like hiking and gardening and canoeing, so that when you don’t feel like doing one you can substitute another.
Depending on where you live and where you work, you might even be able to fit in a little nature exposure by hiking or biking to work every day!
Start where you are
You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to reconnect with nature. Start out right outside your door. Grow a garden. If you can’t grow a garden, plant a shade tree.
Or maybe you could reclaim part of your yard that is being overtaken by undesirable vegetation. Get out there and work up a sweat hacking out undesirable plants that are interfering with your enjoyment of your yard.
Set up bird and pollinator features in your yard – or a fish pond – or even a worm composting farm.
Start slowly and progress slowly
You don’t have to be the next Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett right now. It is okay to experience nature and the outdoors where you are at right now and to learn and progress at your own pace.
If you want to be an expert at hiking, go hiking every weekend and progress slowly from neighborhood strolls to easy day-hikes to overnighters. In Scouts, you’re considered pretty good after 10 outings and really good after 25 outings! You can easily be twice that good in a year!
Learn one new thing per weekend
This is my strategy for teaching myself plant identification. I try to learn a new plant every time I go on a hike.
It seems really slow but if you go outside every weekend, then by the end of a year you’ll have mastered the names and some facts about 52 different plants.
Again, in Scouts we consider someone pretty good if they can identify 10 plants and they are considered really good (worthy of a merit badge) if they can identify 25 plants. You could be twice that good in less than a year!
Buy a used grade-school science life science or general science textbook and re-do nature experiments from your youth – do you remember any nature field trips or outdoor experiments from your school days? Maybe you didn’t get much from them at that point but I bet you’ll get a lot more out of them now.
Make it a fun thing – and then when you get all the fun you think you can out of the old used textbook – use it to start a bonfire!
Debrief after every outing
Make your outing mindful and contemplative. Try to boil your outing down into a bulleted list of 3-5 things that you learned or saw or questions you thought of.
- What was your favorite part?
- What was the most challenging part?
- what could you have done better?
Think of 2-3 things that you didn’t have that you needed and 2-3 things that you carried with you but didn’t need.
Think of 2-3 skills that would have made the outing better.
Now you’ve got a week before the next outing to get that stuff in order and learn those skills!
Study before next week
When you’re not able to be outside, read up on the Internet or watch YouTube videos.
Check out the Outdoor Section of your local newspaper and you’ll be able to see pretty quickly what sort of outdoor activities your area is most conducive to!
Share your discoveries
Join the conversation of ideas. Write, vlog, or take a photo and send it to the newspaper with a caption!
If you need somewhere to share, share your outing with us on the Roaming Parkers blog or Facebook Page.