Chapter 15: Delegate Your Fears and Worries
10:40 AM. We’re out on frozen ponds in the middle of a winter wonderland. It’s only 16 degrees but the children are dressed well and staying warm, passing a hatchet around and one by one taking swings at the ice. There are just over two dozen families (parents and children) at the family nature club, but even in those numbers watching children play with real tools in close quarters can be a bit unnerving. I’m happy to see that the adults in our group reinforce tool safety and stay engaged to ensure the rules are followed. The head of the hatchet smacks the ice and children lean in, quickly drawing instruction from parents to move back from the swinging of the blade. The hatchet is passed to the next child. More swings. More leaning in. More instruction to move back. And then . . . .
They break through the ice! Well, at least their hole is deep enough for . . . “Water!” “Water!” “Water!” “Water!” The hatchet is discarded and they scoop at the slush in the hole like this was an oasis in a desert. Eventually, we pack the hatchet away and run to other frozen ponds, exploring for hours in this winter wonderland.
Organizing family nature clubs can be confronting, scary, and overwhelming. Doing anything new is like this, and putting together outdoor events for children is no exception. Finding and participating in support networks will allow you to delegate your fears and worries to others so that you can be confident and stay motivated to build an incredible family nature club. While you may have yet to discover this subculture, there are a lot of other families and groups doing the same thing as you, and they can be of immense support in your journey.
How to Find and Network with Other Leaders of Family Nature Clubs
The level of support that you’ll want for your family nature club depends on your experience and comfort level with what you’re doing. In addition, who you will want to connect with will vary a great deal depending on whether you prefer in person or digital communications. In my experience, talking with others who have gone down the same path as you will make your process more efficient, surefooted, and profound.
Here’s where to find leaders of family nature clubs:
Children & Nature Network is the organization founded by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, the book in which family nature clubs were perhaps most popularized. The organization has done a great job of working to build an online community of leaders of family nature clubs, including producing a directory of the movement, which includes a map and contact list of leaders, organizations, and registered clubs. There is a specific list of contacts that can assist you in starting a family nature club in your area. Using the map, you can find existing clubs in your area.
Meetup is used by a large number of family nature clubs that you can find by searching keywords. Using your location as one of the search parameters will help you find active groups near you, including some that may not use the actual label of “family nature club,” but that are structured and operate very much in the same way, under the same principles and purpose.
Google, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks are also a great way to find people. Like searching on Meetup, you’ll want to use specific keywords to help you find relevant groups. Explore the Web presence of the groups to determine if they meet your goals and would be good to connect with.
Building your own online presence by publishing and sharing content using relevant tags will naturally draw others into what you’re doing. Talk about what you’re doing, your challenges, your dreams, and your revelations, and people will find you and connect with you.
Attend local gatherings and events that resonate with you, or are being held by groups that resonate with you.
Once you find leaders that you want to connect with, there’s a variety of ways to do so:
- Join their group and spend time introducing yourself so that people know who you are and what you are doing.
- Add value to their group by participating, and build relationships to ensure a future contact will be well received.
- Contact people directly and privately. In some cases, you can do this as a first step. In other cases, it’s better to first get involved with their organization.
I began my journey getting familiar with the Children & Nature Network and connecting with leaders involved at that organization. As I became more confident in my group, I began to reach out to local organizers of similar groups and programs. More recently, I’ve begun building my online presence by sharing our adventures, which has resulted in like-minded leaders connecting with me. Everyone is very eager to help!
What You’ve Learned
In this chapter, you’ve learned how to network with other leaders of family nature clubs and similar organizations to get support as you build your own club.