The kids' eyes were huge when they saw the peregrine falcon at the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey.
It was so great that parents took their kids out to the center on Sunday. The center was celebrating its annual open house and fall bazaar.
The point is, these kids were getting exposed to wildlife and the outdoors. They were taking in the falcon, the vulture and other birds of prey. There were super views of the snow-capped mountains to the east from the center's hill-top location.
We're lucky here in Boise because there are places in town where parents can take their kids and experience the outdoors and the natural world.
The World Center for Birds of Prey and the MK Nature Center are two places where kids can get in touch with the natural world.
This is very important.
I heard an interview with Richard Louv on the radio the other day and this whole issue of nature deficit disorder in kids is really serious. Louv wrote the book, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder."
I was lucky to grow up with a dad that took me fishing and driving and hiking around the woods.
I grew up with a love of the outdoors and so did my kids.
There are reports that say the average child, 6 to 11 years old, spends an average of 30 to 40 per week looking at television or at a computer screen.
Kids spend 6.5 hours each day using electronic equipment in their free time.
I grew up spending most of the time outside exploring little wooded patches here and there, collecting bugs, looking at critters and fishing. Oh sure, we played touch football after school or stick ball in the school yard, but the outdoors was our heaven.
Louv says we've got to let our kids just play outside and explore the natural world. We've got to let them dig in the dirt or jump in a pile of leaves.
Everytime I see a youngster riding his or her bike toward the Boise River with a fishing rod and tackle box tied to the bike, I see hope.
I'm all for organized sports. I coached kids'soccer and T-ball. I attended countless Y basketball games.
But, as soon as the games were over, we headed for the hills.
Louv said more and more cities are creating nature centers where city kids can get in touch with nature.
Like I said, we're lucky in Boise with the World Center for Birds of Prey at the end of South Cole Road and the MK Nature Center at Idaho Fish and Game headquarters at 600 S. Walnut St.
They are good starting points to get kids outdoors and appreciating nature.
Then head for the Boise Greenbelt and then head for the hills.
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