Archive for the ‘Backyard Chats’ Category
Part of my personal mission as a Backyard Mama is to bring to my readers some local Rhode Island stuff that involves connecting children and families to nature. A few months ago, I learned of RI Families in Nature, a local group that meets once a month to go for a hike. I signed up and today I am excited to bring to you Jeanine Silversmith the founder and director of this group.
Join Rhode Island Families in Nature December 30th, 11 am
The Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s
McIntosh Wildlife Refuge and
Environmental Education Center
1401 Hope Street (Rte 114), Bristol, RI 02809
Jeanine provided me with this lovely picture of her family.
Me: How do you and your family incorporate nature into your day to day life?
Jeanine: Unless it’s really raining hard, or bitterly cold, we go outside every day. Sometimes the kids play with neighbors, sometimes with their toys, sometimes with whatever they find. I’m always amazed at how little it takes to keep them occupied – a few rocks, some falling leaves, a walk in the woods. In addition, we try to go on a hike at least a couple of times a month. Nothing big – even just a half mile or so can be an all-day adventure! During the warmer months, we try to plan at least one camping experience. Oh, and our annual family vacation includes hiking in NH.
Me: As a child, did you spend time in nature and what was that like for you? Did you have a favorite activity? What was it?
Jeanine: Although I didn’t spend any time at all hiking or camping, I just remember always being outside. We had a slew of neighbors. Almost all of our activities included no toys, just ourselves and our imaginations. My favorite was this complicated tag game called ringolevio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringolevio). I also remember helping my father in what seemed to be our gigantic garden.
Me: What was the impetus behind starting the RI Families in Nature? Who is involved? Has it been successful?
Jeanine: In September of 2008, I went to CCRI in Warwick to see Richard Louv speak about his bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods. The book itself had a profound effect on me, and also his ideas about “Family Nature Clubs.” These are basically free, outdoor-based networks of geographically-linked families. Honestly, I’m not a religious person, but it was as if the heavens opened up and a beam of life shined on me; I was going to start RI Families in Nature. As of Nov. 24, we have 217 people signed up to receive our monthly electronic newsletter, representing well over 500 people of all ages. The newsletter contains tips and resources to help adults get kids outside more for unstructured playtime. That’s the key: the play needs to be unstructured. So while organized sports are wonderful, they don’t really fit the bill here. I also lead one hike a month. The hikes are easy, short trails open to everyone (not just members who receive our newsletter, and not just young families – singles, seniors, and students are all welcome too!). Sometimes we are a group of more than 50 stomping through the woods! As of now, I’m the only person organizing RIFIN, but I get a lot of support from friends, family, and members. From what I hear on our hikes, and the fact that we’re growing every day, yes, I’d like to think it’s been successful!
Me: Earlier this year I read your article Nature Heals; how have the healing properties of nature affected your life?
Jeanine: I think I just enjoy motherhood more when we all get outside to play regularly. My kids are happier, they eat, sleep, and behave better, and my job’s just a whole lot easier. We were lucky enough to move into a house this past summer with a neighborhood full of families who spend time outside, woods in our backyard, and a lot more time to just play. So I’d say that after 4 1/2 years of motherhood, I think I have more fun just being a mom.
Me: How can the Backyard Mama promote and collaborate with the Rhode Island Families in Nature?
Jeanine: Can you post our hikes each month? Or put a link on your site to ours? Could you invite people to come on our hikes and/or sign up for the newsletter?
Me: Would you list a few of your favorite nature resources?
Jeanine: My favorite books:
Ryan Park, North Kingstown
My favorite websites: