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IslandWood CEO: Your Couch Is Far More Dangerous Than You Think

Posted by Loren Drummond at Jun 03, 2014 10:10 AM |

Do parents really need to fear animal attacks, abduction and accidents? After looking more deeply into the facts and figures of these perceived threats, IslandWood's president and CEO Ben Klasky raises the question of whether we do children more harm than good in trying to keep kids "safely" indoors.

If you are a parent, you probably struggle with how much freedom to give your kids when they go outside. Do you give them more or less freedom than you had a child?

Maybe you have memories of spending entire summer days exploring your neighborhood by bike. Maybe you grew up in a city, and the closest you came to nature were the trees on your block. As a parent, how do you weigh the risks of nature experiences?

An educator reflects on the risks and rewards

Many of Washington's young students make their first connections to the outdoors at IslandWood, a 255-acre outdoor learning center based on Bainbridge Island. As the center's president and CEO (and as a parent) Ben Klasky has a unique perspective on guiding children safely through nature experiences.

He knows the major fears parents contend with when they send their kids outside to play, and recently published a piece in The Huffington Post about the topic.

A closer look at what scares us about sending kids outside

Do parents really need to fear animal attacks, abduction and accidents? After looking more deeply into the facts and figures of these perceived threats, Klasky raises the question of whether we do children more harm than good in trying to keep kids "safely" indoors. As a parent, he's shifted focus:

As a father, I want to protect my kids but my answer can't be keeping them indoors away from harm. Instead, I am focusing my energy on helping them be safer outside. I want my children to be crystal clear on what to do when encountering strangers, wildlife, and dangerous plants. I'm teaching them how to avoid street traffic, and how to properly wear helmets and life vests. By encouraging them to play safely outside, I'm protecting them from a host of much bigger risks -- and they're having a lot more fun too.

Outdoor parents: how do you face fears?

As a parent, does Klasky's piece resonate with the fears you wrestle with when you take your kids out on trail? How do you teach your kids to navigate safely in the natural world?

Share your experiences and tips with other parents in the comments below.

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