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Richard Louv: "Let's G.O.!" with a Little Help from Friends Like REI

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder guest blogs for REI today.

Author Richard LouvSeveral years ago, Sally Jewell, President and CEO of REI, asked me to come to Seattle to speak at the annual gathering of the nationwide REI community. Sally and I sat on stage and talked for an hour about the importance of connecting children to nature. I already admired Sally, but as she wrapped up the morning, she spoke with deep emotion about the issue. I was moved by her words. Since then, the REI folks have done even more to forward the cause of connecting children and adults to the natural world.

This month, as part of the annual REI dividend mailing, Sally sent a special message to more than 4 million active REI members who share a love for the outdoors. “Outdoor recreation is good for all of us, physically and mentally, yet the pace of our lives and competition for our time threaten to disconnect us from nature,” she wrote. “As winter turns to spring, I encourage you to dust off your gear and get outside. Better yet, take young people with you and introduce them to the joys of nature.”

Sally advised her readership to “pick up the REI Kids’ Adventure Journal at an REI store or print it online and join the Natural Families Network” through the Children & Nature Network. To this, I’d add, please visit C&NN and download a free toolkit to help you start a Family Nature Club. Grassroots leaders and families have created over 100 Nature Clubs for Families over the past three years. Some clubs have memberships of several hundred families each. Another good resource is the Spring family activity guide from Nature Rocks.

C&NN logo

Most recently, REI and other sponsors have been a major force in C&NN’s Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) campaign. In 2008, for the first time, C&NN declared April to be the annual Children and Nature Awareness month. From the special proclamations of civic leaders to more families heading outside, the response has been inspiring. This month, thanks especially to the energy and vision of the young people of C&NN’s Natural Leaders Network, all of C&NN’s partners and initiatives are uniting for a major Lets G.O.! push not only to get people of all ages outside, but to encourage service projects to benefit the natural world as part of the process. 

As of this writing, grassroots leaders, neighborhoods, cities, regional campaigns, businesses and other groups have created 399 Let’s G.O.! events in 40 states and Washington, D.C., for April. You’re encouraged to join one of the already scheduled Let’s G.O.! events or organize your own—and post it on C&NN’s map of activities.

All across the country, REI employees are helping galvanize the Let’s G.O.! campaign with outreach, planning and service events. Want to partner with your local REI? Every REI store has an Outreach Specialist. Find your local REI store.

After receiving a C&NN newsletter about Let’s G.O.!, Amy Cadge, of Lindblad Expeditions (another C&NN corporate sponsor) was inspired to call her local REI store. “They already have an event scheduled for April 9th (rain date of April 16th) to clean up a stream area near an elementary school in downtown Richmond,” she reports.

C&NN is grateful to all of its corporate, government, nonprofit sponsors and individual friends. But today, we wish to extend this special thanks to the entire REI community—and to Sally Jewell. I’ll admit I’m not entirely objective about Sally. In 2009, she was invited, along with six other corporate leaders, to the White House to meet with the President. She brought along her REI daypack filled with copies of “Last Child in the Woods” and proceeded to hand them to the President and his staff. Being partial to that book, and its author, I was most appreciative.

So, with the encouragement of our sponsors, and the hard work of thousands, Let’s G.O.!

Richard Louv is founding chairman of the Children & Nature Network. His new book is The Nature Principle.

The Nature Principle by Richard Louv

Posted on at 2:13 PM

Tagged: Children and Nature Network, Last Child in the Woods book, Richard Louv, Sally Jewell and rei

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