“At a time when Americans fret about terrorism and war and are afflicted by the worst economic downturn in 70 years, let’s embrace a remarkable treasure possessed by every citizen of our country…our national parks, national forests and other public lands,” writes Op-Ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, who spent part of his summer backpacking with his family. How much time do you spend in nature? Have you ever been to a national park or forest? Do you agree with Mr. Kristof that many young people need to play fewer video games and spend more time outside?


In “We’re Rich! (In Nature.)”, Nicholas D. Kristof writes:

Americans love their national parks, but they sometimes love video games more.

The National Park Service reports that the number of recreational visits to our national parks was lower in 2010 than a decade earlier — lower even than in 1987 and 1988. There were 35 percent more backcountry campers in the national parks in 1979 than in 2010.

“Fewer and fewer youth are heading outdoors each year,” the Outdoor Foundation concluded in a “special report on youth.” It added that “the American childhood has rapidly moved indoors, leading to epidemic levels of childhood obesity and inactivity.”

It’s tougher to make the argument for wilderness when Americans show less relish for it. Hunting and fishing were once the gateway to outdoor activities, but they’re declining, and backpackers, cross-country skiers and rock climbers haven’t been able to pick up the slack.

Students: Tell us about your experiences in nature. How much time do you spend there? Have you ever had an experience in which nature challenged, revitalized, humbled, exhilarated or restored you? Do you agree that children today are nature-deprived? Why or why not?


credit:Katherine Schulten

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