It is a happy talent to know how to play.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
As the recognition of the need for children to play outside and connect with nature grows, organizations around the country are creating Bill of Rights campaigns to help raise awareness and get kids off the couch and outside. Examples include California, Maryland, and Chicago. Here at TGSG, we’ve talked about Can’t Miss Childhood Moments, reliving the happy memories of our own childhood play and lamenting the fact that many of today’s kids are missing out on simple joys to be found outdoors.
So, my challenge to you is to create a Play Bill of Rights for yourself, and if there are kids in your world — help them to create one, too. (The age of the child will obviously impact how involved they can be in the process.) I recommend starting with your own. As we have talked about before, play is important across the lifespan and modeling play and the love of nature is important for children to see. We can’t say, “Go outside and play,” if the only thing we ever do is work or spend time plugged into our electronic devices. Well, we can, but it won’t be nearly as effective, and could lead to resentment and fights.
To help get your juices flowing, I am sharing a few of my “play rights” below, but please, come-up with whatever feels right for you. And have FUN with it! Go nuts!
I have the right to:
- Unplug at least an hour a day and do something that makes me happy;
- Walk barefoot and not care about how dirty my feet are;
- Walk in the woods and forget everything and everyone and just enjoy the sounds of nature;
- Giggle and clap my hands at the new crop of baby ducks each year, and generally act like a 5 year-old; and
- Think that nothing tastes better than an orange popsicle eaten while sitting in the shade of a favorite tree on a hot summer day.
What it boils down to is this: I have the right to LIVE. To play, and laugh, and leave the dishes in the sink sometimes — and so do you. I would love to hear what some of your rights are, so please share a few in the comments section!
Now, if you will excuse me, there is an orange popsicle in the freezer with my name on it. I have a grape one too, if you care to join me.
See ya outside! – The Grass Stain Guru