Monday, June 4, 2012

Have the Woods Become Unsafe?

The Wildman in Full Bug Suit!
Have the woods and waters become unsafe? At what point did the human race decide it would be a good idea to vilify the outdoors and stir up national panic? Where did the days go of unstructured play, riding bikes, kicking the can and building dams? Have we as a society finally decided that these activities are considered dangerous? With everything that parents must now do to "protect" their kids, are we instead doing them a disservice and creating unnatural fear?

Like little soldiers preparing for chemical warfare, my children go outside in bug suits, bathed in Deet, carrying Thermacells and wearing helmets. Even gloves protect their little hands from biting insects and poison ivy and upon entering the house those bodies are thoroughly inspected for ticks and little hands are scrubbed with antibacterial soap.

With just a few moments thought, I created a list of everything I now (must to be considered a good parent) worry about whenever my kids partake in exploring our natural world. Please feel free to follow my links or plug any of these concerns into Google to receive a full and complete warning of the impending dangers associated with each item. If I have missed something, please make sure to comment, lest I forget some critical danger or unseen hazards as of yet unlisted.

I guess the only safe activity left is sitting on the couch playing video games. Oh wait, I forgot about childhood obesity, carpal tunnel, diabetes and heart disease!

The Savage in Full Bug Suit

We as a society are most certainly creating innate fears in our off spring based on what could at best be described as lies and innuendo. This remains and unfortunate trend that seems to be quickly building a following. 

As more and more of us distance or even remove ourselves from the natural world and traditional outdoor pursuits, we begin to develop unnatural fears of the great outdoors. These fears are then passed on to our offspring and the entire cycle perpetuates. 

Don’t foolishly ignore the hazards of the outdoors but also don’t let them rule your existence and scare you into living a life devoid of a more "natural" world!


  1. As an outdoor, nature educator, I struggle with this every day with families. The disconnect to the outdoors and nature and the fear is what propelled me to do something and create a mission to get people comfortable outdoors. I believe it comes down to educating, to be aware of the hazards of outdoors and respecting it, but not being fearful of it. Also, meeting people where they are at in their comfort levels and offering opportunities to get them outside with a knowledgeable guide and perhaps even pushing their edges a bit. Gently.

    We could get into a long discussion on this topic Rabid.

    1. RU, I agree. We have a responsibility to "reintroduce" people gently and in with small steps back to a more natural existence. It is a big reason why I got into guiding and concentrating introducing children, women and novice outdoors people into getting started in some of our more traditional outdoor pursuits.

      Keep doing what you are doing, we need more people like you!

  2. Man, this is such a struggle. As the dad of a 2-year old who loves the outdoor, it's just tough. Of course sand is fine to eat! Unless geese crapped on it, in which case the sand is full of e. coli. And other such fun things.

    It's a banner year for poison ivy down our way, and I've read two scientific studies now that say that poison ivy is one of the world's most CO2-loving plants, and as such, it's becoming more common than ever. I'm not allergic to it, but don't yet know if Hank is. He loves bees (we teach him to love bees), but he hasn't been stung yet and I have no idea if he's allergic to that (I only have a reaction to getting multiple stings). Stressful. But we carry on. I feel good about it, too.

    1. RM, LOL! I see that you as well have been taught to over analyze and reexamine our natural world and take into account all possible scenarios. Maybe we should just sterilize the outdoors and make it safe?!?! I think I still have a couple of gallons of DDT at the house . . . errr wait . . . didn't we already try that once with disastrous results?

      Its good and you are good to be a concerned parent. God knows I am prone to freaking out now and then over bird poo and other equally crazy scenarios. My trouble has always been finding balance to those concerns that are based on facts and stats and those hat should be categorized as unnatural fears and societal perpetuated panic.

      Keep up the good work bud!

  3. Your a good Dad, Rabid. Precautions are a good thing with kids..

    1. Thanks buddy . . . am I still a good Dad if I make the kids pick-up the beer cans on the lawn every Sunday afternoon?

    2. All part of the training for the "little grasshoppers"

  4. We are fortunate enough to have retained some of the old paradigm. Our girls go out in the woods without bug spray and nets. We check for ticks and when we find them it is a non-event (we remove them and move on). Even our now 15 year old, not too long ago, would spend time alone in the woods nearby playing in the brook.

    I guess that is how we justify destroying all of the wilderness to create more homes. It has to stop otherwise there will be no place to grow food, or get water, or take a healthy walk, or .... Sorry, that is a bit of a mini-rant.

    1. DEM, I can't believe that your wife hasn't concocted some top secret natural bug dope made from willow sap or some other "green" ingredients!

      True . . . I agree with your rant. Without an appreciation for the outdoors and what it can offer it is easy to justify the killing off of habitat and species to make room for a rapidly growing humanity.


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