A nature education isn’t just about being in “school”, but about getting more nature into your life. Katy and Dani talk about ways to bring more nature into your current lifestyle, and offer some ways to start a nature program (for both kids and adults!) where you live.
0:07:00 Dani and Katy's nature school experiences - Jump to section
0:16:00 Markegard Farm nature school and tree journals - Jump to section
0:22:00 Resources for setting up nature programs - Jump to section
0:34:00 Online training - Jump to section
0:43:00 Question of the day: headaches - Jump to section
Specific Articles and Links mentioned in this podcast:
BBC Article - Wilderness Awareness School - Kamana - Gone Feral - NOLS - Children & Nature Network
Other helpful resources:
Leave No Trace - Timbernook - Green Teacher - Natural Start Alliance - Cedarsong Nature School (teacher training)
Access all previous podcasts via your podcast provider of choice (Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, or anywhere you get podcasts).
KATY: Welcome to the Katy Says podcast, where Dani Hemmat and Katy Bowman talk about movement; the tiny details, the larger issues and why Movement Matters. I’m Katy Bowman, biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA. All right, Dani Hemmat, chronically curious movement teacher, what do you got to say?
DANI: HA. And I’m Dani Hemmat, a chronically curious movement teacher.
KATY: So today.
KATY: So today, chronically curious movement teacher, we’re talking about, once again, nature, outside, green spaces and are you ready for this?
KATY: We were just talking about jargon-free. I guess green space it technically jargon. Blue spaces.
KATY: I had never heard that term. I’m in the middle of finishing the edits for Dynamic Aging which is a book on…
DANI: Dynamic Aging
KATY: It’s a book really geared to goldeners. Which is a term that the four women who have been working with me for each one of them almost 10 years,
KATY: They all started in their late 60s. They’re now all in their mid or later 70s. Who move better now, 70 plus, almost 80, one is almost 80, then they did 10 years previously.
DANI: That’s the magic of your work.
DANI: Me too. But I’m not a goldener.
KATY: That’s the magic of movement, right?
KATY: So it’s one thing for me to always say, you know, this works. It’s another thing for people who have lived it. You know. It’s one thing for, like, a 30-year-old and then the 35-year-old or the 40-year-old. It’s like, no really, start now. It’s never too late. But when you have an 80-year-old, almost, who is, like, 70 wasn’t too late for me. Move better at 80 than I did at 69. That’s impactful.
DANI: It’s pretty cool. I cannot wait.
KATY: So, we’re gonna talk about nature today. We’re gonna talk about nature-school today but, but in doing a lot of research for this book it turns out that, you know, vitamin N and this nature movement has got a lot of traction in schools. We’re thinking about “oh, what’s good for kids?” Right. But of course, it’s what’s good for humans of all ages and blue spaces was a term that I found in a couple of research papers where they’re finding that, that, um, goldeners, I’m going to coin this term, dangit. Goldeners who are recording dep…like a lot of things that are typical of a particular of an age group in our culture: depression, chronic pain, foggy headedness. That just by engaging in green and blue spaces… Blue spaces are, wait for it, places where there are bodies of water, still or unmoving, so they can be a pond, a water feature, a lake, ocean. Blue spaces.
DANI: That’s cool.
KATY: Don’t you love it? I don’t…
DANI: I do.
KATY: I just love it because I was like, I guess it’s just terminology, I’m a geek. You’re a wordsmith and I’m expecting… I’m frankly disappointed that you’re not more excited.
DANI: Well, I kind of feel silly because I was thinking sky. I was thinking sky when you said blue spaces.
KATY: You’re like everyone needs to move out of Oregon.
DANI: Well, but look up. If there’s too many buildings and stuff, you kind of, I feel, like, choked. So that’s where my interpretation was.
KATY: Yeah. Oh.
DANI: But I also do like a body of water.
KATY: Who doesn’t love a big body of water.
DANI: Who doesn’t? A big, glassy, still, voluptuous body of water.
KATY: You’re like, if you got no lakes, just fill up a glass of water and sit down with it on the floor.
DANI: Water is life. Power to the people.
KATY: Ok, so we’re gonna talk about green spaces, blue spaces, how to specifically, this is how to start a nature school right?
DANI: Yeah, some ideas. Because we get a lot of questions, actually. A lot of people write us and say, “How do I do this?”
KATY: Right. And I feel like if you’re listening and you’re not one of those people who wrote in you’re like, “I gotta start a nature school? I already got a job.” So the overarching theme is not “start a nature school” as much as, “different ways to bring nature into your personal life, your community”. Communidy. I just listening to the outtakes of the audio book. There was a lot of communidy. So community. We edited them all out. So how to bring it into your community. Whether it’s your education community. If you have families or friends, how to get together collectively in nature. So right off the bat, before we
DANI: Well, just into your life, I guess. It doesn’t have to be – I mean all of the things that we are going to suggest today and we are by no means experts in doing this…
KATY: By no means.
DANI: By no means. But any of this stuff can be reduced down to just you yourself.
DANI: Like what can you do for you.
KATY: So before, we’re going to go into schooling and then, of course, ways to expand that. But the first thing, I just read … the BBC, I was gonna go look for it right? The BBC posted something on vitamin nature. And one of the things it was talking about was, I’m stalling because I’m trying to look for it as I talk, one of the things it mentioned was step 1, create a green space in your home. Like, don’t worry if you are like in a total urban area and you’re just like “we can’t get to nature”. Bring nature into your home. And there’s a whole appendix in Movement Matters, that the creator of my nature school and the larger nature organization, she put it together because she’s taken lots of training. And the first thing is, get plants in your home. Get rocks. Get, I mean we have … I should post a couple of pictures. I just have, our window sills are full of treasures. And the treasures that we find when we’re hiking aren’t only to commemorate the hike as much as they’re things to touch again and recall.
DANI: Right. Well, you’ve been to my house. It’s like plant central. I have to have plants all around.
KATY: Yeah. Well, you kind of do as a human, right?
KATY: So that’s the thing. We keep talking about it as it’s decor. But let’s go back a step. Humans require plant input. The end. So, one way you can improve your, or to, like, nature up your life, is to allow a little bit more nature inside the walls of your home than are currently serving as a barrier between you and the rest of the natural world. So, bring some inside. You don’t have to put a sandbox in your living room, but there are little ways.
KATY: All right. Now. School.
DANI: Excellent. Well, we’ll try and link to that. Send me that and I’ll put it in the show notes.
KATY: Just come over. Everyone just come over.
DANI: Really? You want us to come over right now?
KATY: Well this is not going to air right now but, yes, as soon as you hear this, just text me and I’ll give you Dani’s address.
DANI: Ha ha ha.
KATY: So, let’s talk about nature school. All of our kids are in nature school. Different ages. I have younger kids. My kids are 4 and 5 and how old are yours?
DANI: I have 11 and 13. And almost 12 and 14. I got teen tweens, Tween teens.
KATY: Yeah, that’s like a nice spectrum I think. There’s definitely earlier. And I have been in nature school with my kids since they were infants, so I’ve got that phase covered. When did you guys start?
DANI: We didn’t start until we moved to Boulder. Last year they were in school. Where we lived in Montana actually only had preschool. And that’s something we’re gonna talk about in the show because we run into that a lot and some of us do have older kids.
DANI: This is their second year, and I think this school has been around for about maybe 5 or 6 years.
KATY: Okay. All right, so, what is your school like?
DANI: It is a cool school. It does older kids and elementary school, so no preschool.
KATY: So what is that technically, like, starting at 6?
DANI: I think, yeah, maybe actually I think this starts at like 3rd grade or something like that.
DANI: And they are really skills, heavily skills based. It’s on a farm that has about 20 acres and it’s a working farm. But it’s really overgrown and wonderful. So they combine, like, they’ll take the kids out and they’ll hand them a machete and they’ll say, and they’ll say, “hack away from yourself and always hold the handle like this. Now, go clear that Russian olive” which is an invasive species. And the spectrum of what they get to do. They get to hack at things with a large knife. They get the belief in themselves because an adult handed them that and didn’t take them through a 12 point litigious sheet of don’t do this. They were like, you know, common sense. Cut away from yourself, immediately there’s confidence built. They’re doing labor. It’s benefitting the farm, right? Because they’re clearing this stuff and they’re gonna feed it to the goats later. The kids all like, hack it and then carry it over to the goats. They do things like they build their own multi-stack knives. They make their own bows and arrows. They learn to skin animals. They learn to differentiate what’s edible and what’s not – how things grow. I mean it’s really super super cool. And I’ve asked the owners many times if I could attend and I guess I have, at 45 I’m way past the 18-year-old age limit and so then I’m like, can I intern? And they’re like, “we have those”. But we went to a different one last year that was much less skills oriented but I really felt like that was important for us.
KATY: What do you mean by “skills”? Just so I know we’re on the same … like what versus the other school?
DANI: Like being able to build a bow drill which is
KATY: Got it.
DANI: you know how you can start a fire. And then working on that until you actually start your own coal and start a fire. Identifying animal tracks, you know, stalking animals. Because it’s this big chunk of land. Pretty much everything, you know, making cordage, all these cool things.
KATY: What was… and in the school before, what were they doing in that school then? I just trying… I want to get a sense of, I would love everyone to like, what are the different things that are going on…
DANI: Right. There’s so many different kinds. And this one was really quite popular that we were in but it just wasn’t what my family was looking for. They were more into the spiritual journey of, it was more focused on just being out and being a part of nature.
KATY: Like long walks…
DANI: So there was a lot of storytelling…
KATY: Oh got it.
DANI: …and stuff like that. And we’re much more of a practical, kind of a hands-on family and just felt like, you kind of pick that up when you’re out squatting, you know, examining a track. I feel like that’s pretty darn spiritual too. And you get the skills of knowing “is this a bear or a raccoon I’m following?”
KATY: Because there’s a difference. You don’t want to be hot on the tail of a raccoon only to turn out rawr!
DANI: Laughs. Vicious little bandits.
KATY: I know.
DANI: What’s yours like?
KATY: Well, there’s a lot of different components. So there’s one large organization, which is Olympic Nature Experience. And that program has multiple programs for different ages that we’ve attended. So the first one is a, it’s a drop in parent/child experience. And it was, it’s from infants, really up until ages 5 or 6. And it’s one day a week, it’s like 5 bucks and it is, it meets year around, all weather, and it would be, I feel like its purpose is to facilitate nature experiences for people who don’t, who aren’t comfortable on their own, where that’s something maybe new. Like the fact that you go out, even when it’s raining and that you can take your kids out in it. So I feel like it’s a service in that it kind of bridges the gap for people who have long-term nature deficit. Where I would put myself in that category, like, comfortable in nature was not how I grew up.
KATY: I grew up being conditioned to be afraid of nature. Just in case anyone is thinking that I was something different. No. I was not.
DANI: You’re no Mowgli?
KATY: No. Absolutely not.
KATY: So that has stories, there’s storytelling. Our school of all different ages and skills uses storytelling as a tool because it is a traditional way of usually explaining lessons without it being, “ok everybody, now you’re gonna learn this.” And so
KATY: So there’s a lot of stories that are used to help you identify animals. That’s how our school uses them. For example, there’s all these stories about, you know, how the chipmunk got its stripes. But then you learn, based on the number of stripes, and it was like, you know, and then this animal scratched its back as it went through and that’s why it has stripes. And they understand that that’s not why they have stripes and yet, at the same time, they’ll remember how many stripes it has and how to identify it.
KATY: So lots of things like that for very small children. As well as being down by the water, you know, poking things with sticks. That very natural, organic, desire to explore without any lesson agenda on it. You know, you’re dealing with other kids
KATY: You’re dealing with other grown ups. So it’s almost kind of like, there’s a lot of elements. It is facilitated but it’s not overly structured.
DANI: Right. Well, it sounds like a perfect entry if you’re feeling, like, intimidated or not comfortable taking your kid out and about.
KATY: Sure. And it’s also
DANI: Sounds perfect.
KATY: For those of you who have a nature school or have envisioned starting something larger, this program has been around for a very long time. It’s done in conjunction with our Audubon center. It is the natural feeder into the nature school. Because what you have are kids who have been around the teachers for years and years and years. Their parents are comfortable with them, with the teachers. The children are comfortable with the teachers. The parents have over these years, developed a comfort themselves in nature. And so it kind of makes sense, like, “oh, I guess we’ll go to nature school because my child feels comfortable here.” It’s not, where if you are comfortable in the home, going to school inside is maybe a more natural segway, right? You’re just so used to being inside why wouldn’t you go to school inside? Well if you’re regularly engaging outside, why wouldn’t you go to school outside.
KATY: It’s a really great program. Super easy and I highly recommend for anyone starting a nature program to begin with something like this. Because you don’t have to deal with all the things that come with being responsible for children on your own.
KATY: All the parents are there, right? So you’re just going, “I love nature. You love nature. I like stories. I have some basic training. I have a space.” Let’s start here. And it’s like, it’s a very easy way to get started. So that’s our infant/toddler. My kids still go sometimes.
DANI: Was that on the weekend or?
KATY: No. It’s one day a week. It’s a weekday thing.
DANI: I was just wondering if a parent, you know, if both parents work if you could do tradsies with another parent if they would let you take two kids, one of them not being yours so that you could partake in that.
KATY: We take kids all the time that aren’t ours to that.
DANI: Ok. They don’t care, that’s cool!
KATY: No no
DANI:That’s an option if you’re going like, “What, I’m Monday through Friday.” But there’s always options. You just gotta think outside.
KATY: You gotta think outside the way you’re normally used to doing things.
KATY: Then there is the school which is the pre-school. It’s a 3-6. So it’s a little bit past preschool. That is the nature school. And then there is a program, 5 to 10, which is skills. So that’s why I was interested in how your school delineates with skills.
KATY: So skills, I think by our school’s definition, are those things where more responsibility for one’s own actions are translating more into a direct manifestation of what they did. Like a fire or, you know, or they’re using knives now. When I was in California and on the Markegard farm for our launch party, we spent a day at their nature school. And they’re nature school is entirely different than our nature school because it goes, it started with older kids, like 14-18-year-olds and has filled down all the way to pre-school over the last
DANI: That’s cool
KATY: And it’s like 40 and 50 and 60 kids. Like, it’s huge. It’s like, wow, this is a long-established program. And the kids break off into different groups and at different levels. They’re in all different areas. But they had badged. Their skills had… they all this leather badge and they would get different stamps punched into it when they got their tree climbing skills, like, for example, to learn, to get the tree climbing skills badge you had to, you have to be able to identify the type of tree that you’re about to climb. You can’t climb if you don’t know what it is. Or, you can but you can’t…these are the requirements of your badge.
DANI: Everyone earning the badge.
KATY: Yeah. And like you have a journal and you have to spend time drawing and writing things about the tree. Sketching the bark, what are the animal species that are coming to it? What does it look like in the winter? What does it look like in the summer? And so, you have a tree journal. Just, so, again, if you’re like “no way school”, tree journals might be something, like I would actually like to have a tree journal as part of just something that I do. You know, like, “oh…”
DANI: I cannot believe you said that.
KATY: Why? Is that what you got me? Is that what you got me for Christmas? Why?
DANI: No. But I was thinking, I was, I don’t know, I was doing something with the tree and I’m like, I wonder what this is? And I’m like, wait a minute, you have a north American tree field guide at home so why don’t you start a tree journal. And so I started just because, you know, I can only learn this stuff in bits and pieces.
DANI: We’re twinsies.
KATY: We’re twinsies.
DANI: I already got you a gift but man, I’ll have to trade it in for a tree journal.
KATY: Well, just send me your tree journal when you’re done. But it’s like the beauty of sketching, right? There’s so many things that you’re observing. It’s more than just like matching. You’re like really paying attention to it. Smelling. What does it smell like? You know, like, what do your senses tell you about this being that is in front of you. So anyway there’s that and then there’s, there’s five rule. I don’t have my tree badge. I don’t know exactly. It’s like, “Don’t step on any branches that are dead. Don’t step on any branches that are smaller than your wrist.” They just have these things that you learn that eventually go out and give you kind of a template for when you’re outside of the school, etc.
KATY: So that’s our skills. And then we’ve got this pre-school that’s in the middle, which both of my kids have attended all of the years it’s been in existence. My son does two days in the preschool and then one day in the skills. The skills will increase in frequency of days because the programs keep filling which is great. But we have that, that preschool is definitely more..their tracking, I find it to be nature rich. Like, I find my kids are always coming home with these things about animals. I just did an interview for Soft Star on nature. We can link to that in the show notes. But it’s like, you know, my son will just pop off… does anyone else have this phenomenon when your kids come home from school and they’re like, “Uh, nothing” or “How was your day?” and then like five hours later, or 7 days later they’ll just pop off… it’s like, “The ears of an owl are in the same line.” And you’re like, “What?” It’s like, “One’s higher than the other.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?”
DANI: Yeah, that’s how I knew that this nature school that we’re in now was good because they would pop off nothing last year but this year they get in the car and they’re like, “This is how an apple tree grows…” So I get this fantastic education. Sometimes I drive slower just so I can hear more. It’s great.
KATY: Yeah. It’s amazing and it’s always…
DANI: Do they play games too?
KATY: They do. And
DANI: Because I forgot to mention. Games are huge…
DANI: …learning opportunities that the kids don’t even know.
KATY: Super fun game but I’m gonna tell everyone now. And Dani, I swear you would like to play it with me. One person sits blindfolded or eyes closed if they’re trustworthy in a circle with keys right in front of them. So they’re sitting cross-legged on the ground keys in front of them. Everyone else is in a circle around that person and then one leader, it’s the teacher, right? So all the kids, there’s one kid in the middle, all the kids in the circle. I say kids… I love playing this game. The teacher will point to a kid and that kid will have to creep in and try to steal the keys. But the person in the middle is listening intently. And it’s
DANI: That is awesome.
KATY: pointing the finger at any person that they hear coming in. It’s so fun. It’s so fun. And what is it? It’s like it’s a game for both the person in the middle the people on the outside.
KATY: Like it’s, oh, so many games like that that have some sort of
KATY: physical skill but thoughtful too. I mean, your awareness is heightened, but lots of things like that.
DANI: There’s a lot of things you can look for in you area if you’re wanting to bring more nature education into your life. You know, there’s sometimes adult classes because I’m sure your place has those as well, right? The Olympic Nature Experience has adult classes.
KATY: We do. And they’re starting senior classes, called Silver Foxes.
DANI: That’s cool.
KATY: Or even like Audubon Center.
KATY: There are nature organizations that lead bird walks. And there’s an expert there who’s like, “Oh do you hear that call?” I mean there’s a lot of different ways to get it. Bushcraft classes.
DANI: Well maybe, yeah, maybe we should talk about some of these resources that you and I know of and we’ll put all of those in the show notes. You want to just kind of move forward on that so we have time to hit on all these, or?
KATY: Well, I think that the first thing to do, so because the thing with resources is sometimes they don’t cover everywhere. The first thing to do is just go Google your town name and, or your city area and nature program. Like what are the key words? Because what I have found is a lot of stuff isn’t online in the way that you would expect it to be.
DANI: Right. I think I have even different thing to do first. And that’s kind of figure out
DANI: and that’s kind of figure out what you want for yourself and your family. Because you’re gonna either run into lots of options or no options
DANI: and either way you’re gonna need some sort of mission statement about what you’re looking for in this education experience.
KATY: Oh, so these aren’t resources. These are steps.
DANI: Yeah, well let’s do both.
KATY: Ok. So step one… wait are you talking personal mission statement regarding nature school? Is that what I hear coming out of your mouth?
DANI: Yeah. PMS.
KATY: PMS. What were you looking for.
DANI: PMS. Yep, what were you looking for.
KATY: So you were looking for, your kids are older, they want actionable items, use
DANI: Right. Practical, usable skills and lots of moving while they’re doing it.
KATY: Yeah. And does it have to be weekend, outside? There are a lot of things to identify.
DANI: Right. You’ve got age groups to look at, you know, do you want a multi-age range where there’s kindergarteners with high schoolers? Do you want them separated? I mean there’s all these things that’s important to think about what’s gonna matter to us.
KATY: And then all, like, I think of timing as a big thing. Because we’re used to fitting nature in and around our non-nature time. So I think at first glance, it’s gonna be, what are the after school programs, you know, besides schooling, is it supplemental, like to homeschooling? Does your nature school, do you want it to include educational curriculum? Because that’s one thing that I didn’t – there’s traditional education. Some nature schools are actually doing more traditional, oh what’s the term, like core?
DANI: Yeah, like academics.
KATY: Yeah, so they’re doing academics out in nature and then some nature schools don’t really, they have a different way of getting to those same concepts that are not as conventional. And then there are some nature schools that are just focusing on the nature skills themselves.
KATY: So, try to figure out … would you be happy with any of them? Because you are doing a balancing act of what you most want. Definitely, put that on paper. And then what’s available and then how can you, how can YOU help create the thing that you actually want, right? That’s gonna be the next piece All right, so mission statement…
DANI: And well Google, like you said. Look for people things that … talk to other people. Because like you said, some things aren’t. They don’t have time to work on their website. You know, they don’t have time. I mean when I look at our Nature School’s website is not updated but they don’t have time because they’re like skinning hides and drying, you know, fruit, and chopping down trees and things, and that’s ok and I actually found them kind of by accident. Talk to other people. And not just other parents. Go to your parks and rec.
DANI: Or when you’re hiking ask somebody, like, who’s a park ranger, “hey, you know about this?” because usually they will have helped contribute in some way to something.
KATY: That’s the big thing because sometimes a lot of times, bushcraft, people who are experts in nature are not also online experts. Like that’s, that is the reality. If they are out in nature, they don’t have that, right? They’re small – these are small programs. They’re not mass produced because that’s kind of the antithesis to what they’re all about. So I have found so many things when I’m traveling through town that I can’t find online, I find in flyers in parks.
KATY: Go to the … I mean like, they’re all about the flyer. “I have time to make this flyer. On my hike out I’ll stake it to this board.”
KATY: So read the flyers because that is where I first found, six years ago, there’s like a whole organization here that’s not the school that I’m talking about, of rewilding yourself. Like way before it’s .. not on the internet…
KATY: is this man who has just been teaching these skills out on his land and it’s got a huge community. On a flyer outside the natural grocery store. Right? So, just think outside of the internet box when it comes to looking for nature. Also
KATY: people who write, you know your nature, local nature bookstores. So if there’s like a local nature museum, I keep saying Audubon because that’s what’s close, they’ll often carry books by, like a lot of experts write books. They’ll self-publish these small gorgeous guides. Find them. Because they know everyone in the community. So go look, flip over those books. Find their name. Ask someone if they have their phone number if they don’t have a website and track that person down because that person is your portal to the wisdom of the landscape of your area.
KATY: So find them.
DANI: Yes. Ok, so you’ve kind of figured out this is what you’re looking for things. You might come to find that you’re in an area with little of what you’re looking for – or nothing. And I’m just going to reiterate again this is not just for kids but it’s for yourself too. So have that in your mind when you’re listening to this and I won’t repeat it again. But, you can get together, like if there’s nothing for you but you really want to make this happen, this is not all on your shoulders, because, like a lot of us have other jobs that we have to do and we can’t just chuck it all to go gather acorns. You could get together with other like-minded parents that are interested in this same thing. And you don’t have to be bushcraft experts. Because there’s so many ways to educate yourself and to get help from other people. But you could just form a co-op.
DANI: And say, “you know what, the three of us will take them on Wednesday and the four of us will take them on Friday. And we’ll just go out to the park and do this, and do what we’re gonna do.” Or go out to the woods, you know, you don’t just have to hand off your kids. Even if you’re pressed for time you can get together with other people and make it work so you that you can all share the load a little bit, of making this happen. I would definitely look to others so that you don’t feel the pressure.
KATY: Well, I mean creating an entire school… it is, I have witnessed it first hand of someone starting from nothing to a huge flourishing school busting her butt to do so. It comes because other parents are super passionate about it and don’t have her skill set but who have other skill sets.
KATY:But definitely. A co-op is nice. Just to share a little bit. The first thing she did when she wanted to have this was she had a meeting just asking people “who wants to be on the board”. Right? Even if you don’t do a formal board, just make an impromptu board. Like is there someone with computer skills? Is there someone who is good at facebook that could handle creating a Facebook page for our organization and informing our community. And it starts with this little nature play day. Or I’m gonna teach a two-hour family wild food class, right? Now you get a bunch of people interested and you can share your information that way. So, they’re definitely, it’s interesting because that organic grass roots movement – groose roots – that organic grass roots feeling is almost necessary for this organic grass roots skill set. Right.
DANI: I agree.
KATY: It’s part of it. It’s part of it.
KATY: I remember, I’m just thinking outside of that, that traditional…when we were in, I think it was Amsterdam, we were in a park, huge city park. I mean huge city, right? And we were just lounging in this park and running around – big park. But there was a preschool, it wasn’t a preschool…there was a school that had all these kids and this tshirt.. it was a nature school but it was a nature after school program.
KATY: It was perfect because if you’re trying to negotiate school, like traditional academics versus nature school and that’s kind of an insurmountable issue, sometimes having a 3-5:30 program is way easier.
KATY: And then you’ve got, my kids go to nature school. They go to nature school after regular school and it serves all of these same purposes. So I just, I feel like there’s so many ways this can be done. If you’re like, “I can’t do a full school but hey I only work ‘til this time or I know someone who is really good with kids and nature after school, maybe we’ll just start this co-oppy – We do, everyone after nature school actually comes to our house. I mean that’s not a formal thing but it’s just like, we’re gonna be out moving still and why not keep the kids moving because they, frankly, they’re transitioned to outside. They don’t want to come in, so, “One more hike for everyone.”
KATY: Just tons of food. I mean we just keep the party going. So, so many different ways and if you don’t want to do a formal school, just get a hiking group together.
DANI: Well yeah. Actually one of the restorative exercise specialists who lives in Ireland, she just invites parents with their kids to come out for a walk for an hour in the woods.
KATY: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
DANI: And that’s just brilliant because they’ve got some company, you know, they’re not all alone just watching their toddler run from tree to tree and sit down when they feel like it. And it’s just, it’s an hour but it’s still being out there. Very little formal structure. There’s just so many ways to make it happen.
KATY: A hiking group is a really great way to transition. It doesn’t have to be a school. We don’t have to call it a school.
KATY: It’s just a gathering, right? So, hiking groups. Holiday hiking groups. Weekend hiking groups. After school hiking groups. Dinner hiking groups. Think out of the box. So many different ways of like, all right, pack your lunches we are doing, because we all work, we’re trapped inside. There are so many days when I have to be … I don’t have to be… where I AM in front of my computer relentlessly. And I feel sick by 4:00. I’m like that was the day. And then I go, you know what? It’s not the day. THere’s many more hours of this day and it’s like text everyone, dinner, meet me here, bring your kids, bring your jackets and hats, there’s this apple tree that I know that’s that seven apples still left on it. And we will spend the last three hours, half of it in the pitch black with headlamps, being outside as a huge group. And those are, to date, some of my fondest memories of my family community time. It’s the day when I just kind of scrambled for those last dark hours. It doesn’t have to be beautiful day and easy. IT was a little more challenging but so what. Like it was group. So dinner hiking groups once a week. See if that fits in your mission statement.
DANI: That could work. Yeah. Just start small if you need to. Yeah. Ok, I am a big fan of, what do you call it when you teach yourself stuff? I can’t believe I can’t think of the word.
DANI: Yes. Thank you.
KATY: HA! Wait a minute! What just happened? Were you reaching for a word and I supplied it?
DANI: And you came up with it and you said it correctly!
KATY: I said it! Yeah.
KATY: You’re welcome.
DANI: I think we’ve passed over. This is pretty good.
KATY: I feel like we may have jumped the shark. This might be the moment.
DANI: Wow. Alternate universe.
KATY: All right. So tell me more about the auto-didactic group that you were mentioning?
DANI: Well, a lot of kids are lucky. They get to go to camps they get to go to schools. But not everyone has opportunity but there are ways to train yourself and I want to talk about a few of them that I like and you probably have stuff that you know of. There is a program and it’s from the Wilderness Awareness school, who I think is in Dubal, Washington. And they have a great site with lots of resources on this sort of stuff. But they have a program and it’s called Kamana Naturalist Training program. And they have it for adults and kids. So you take your kids through it or you take yourself through it. And you just do it in chunks and it’s an online naturalist training program. And it is super affordable and I have started it and I really like it. I just want to put that out there. And it teaches you things like, well it’s just, it’s great. It’s great. And then there’s things, there’s a lot online that you can get or you can locate people, you know, that you can travel to or whatever, but there’s a website called Gone Feral. And he does bushcraft and online training and in-person classes. He travels around the United States or you can come to Colorado and take that. There’s a lot of outdoor leadership training opportunities. Like NOLS, which is a national outdoor leadership school or that Wilderness Awareness School. So there’s not – you don’t need a formal, formal training to start yourself off doing this because the resources in this day and age are phenomenal. Do you have any that you want to…
DANI: ..throw in there? No?
KATY: That was good. I mean it’s just, in the end it’s just to get started you just have to decide to start. You know, like I … we can keep giving links but they’re all there on the internet for you to find them or in your particular area. It’s just going to be asking around. And again, technology, using technology a little bit to help your transition back to nature, just go right now to your social media and be like, “Who, who is a forager? Herbalist?” Like there’s so many different ways you can go about it and often times I’ve found people in areas where I’m traveling or here in town and it’s very difficult. Like if you are really good at a skill, like writing or being an herbalist, or being a biomechanist, or like whatever that thing is, you want, like, you don’t have expertise in a ton of other things and so it’s challenging sometimes for someone who has that wisdom or skill set to also be a good business person. So it’s hard to start classes because you have to be not only a master herbalist but also, you know, an entrepreneur. And so, it happens that these classes just become very difficult for these people and they just don’t teach. Even though they love to teach and want to teach.
KATY: So I have often said, “oh I will gather the people for you. You don’t have to do the work of a class. Would you be willing to teach the class? I will put it together. I will just pay you for your time and then I can do all the work in the background.” So if you’re like I can’t find the class that’s perfect for me. Then make the class that’s perfect for you – put it together. You do the work to put it together and then the teacher and you benefit.
KATY: So I have just had to do that quite often because it’s like, well I want a class on this … and I want it to be all ages, right, because I… you know, so you just, you just figure out what it is that you want and then you… I am so my mother right now … make it happen. You just make it happen.
DANI: Yeah, but you can. And I have to say a big shout out to, like, parks and recs departments. Often they have, not enough people resources but they have a lot of things they want to institute. A lot of ideas that they want to make happen. And if you go to them, they might be able to help. You want something – you want to teach it or you want to make it happen, they probably have connections with those people already.
KATY: And space.
DANI: that you’re looking for… and space. And land. And advertising savvy.
DANI: And outreach. So.
KATY: And a love so much for the nature that they want you to do it.
DANI: Sure. Sure.
KATY: Right? That’s part of their job. They are stewards. And there is no better way to get people interested in protecting and valuing nature than being comfortable and relishing in it.
KATY: So that’s why, you know, so many of these people are in…they want what you want too. So everyone wants it. You just have to figure out the details.
KATY: Well, I feel like, I feel like this was helpful.
DANI: Well I hope so. I mean, we didn’t hit all of our tips but
KATY: What else? You got another one?
DANI: Well there’s just a lot of times, somebody that has a working farm will appreciate you renting some space from them. You know they could use the income.
DANI: So you don’t need acreage to make this happen.
DANI: You know you could always do tradesies. And have the kids actually work the farm.
DANI: Which I think is brilliant because it teaches them so much and so much stewardship and respect. And you could offer to intern at a program if you ever have time. Which I think is a good way to learn stuff and you kind of have a, put in the hours and then they get your labor and that’s a win-win.
KATY: Didn’t you offer to intern one time and they told you that they had an internship but it was a paid internship?
DANI: It was so much money and I just turned and put that money into the Kamana Naturalist training program.
KATY: I love that.
DANI: I was like, “I’m gonna take a third of that and still be outside and do this.” Yes, that is true.
KATY: And go to the library. And get a book.
DANI: Yeah, go to the library.
KATY: I mean like, I just feel like, if you’re totally overwhelmed, like “I can’t start”, then just go outside. Just go for a walk.
DANI: And there’s just such a huge movement toward this and it’s growing.
DANI: And it has shown no signs of just being a fad. I mean the validity…
KATY: Nature is not a fad.
KATY: Nature is not a fad.
DANI: No, but the validity of education in nature, being outside and spending time in nature, the studies just keep growing and growing.
DANI: And I think in this day and age, I think I’ve said like 8 times in this podcast so I probably sound like a parent too.
KATY: What day and age is this actually?
DANI: It’s this day and age, gosh darn it. Con sarn it. But you might be able to get funding.
KATY: Oh totally.
DANI: To get you started. Look into that. Because there’s a lot of support right now for this because people are starting to get, “Hey, it matters.”
KATY: Find a grant writer.
KATY: Our school has received tremendous grants. But only after we got an excellent grant writer. There are a lot of people out there with a lot of income looking to invest in things that make the world better.
KATY: You just have to be able to communicate why what you’re doing is making the world better and there’s the research as you said, daily, you know. Oh, a great… Children and Nature Network has pages and pages and pages of research.
KATY: If you are looking to do a report or to create a proposal use them as a resource because they are so up to date and they have done a tremendous amount of work for you. So go check them out.
DANI: Yes. And I have a slew of resources that we’ll put in the show notes too. [see below]
DANI: So that is that. Well, I’m excited. This makes me want to go out and start a nature program even though I’ve already got a whole to choose from but it’s…there’s so many ways to do it. Like there’s no wrong or right way to do this. You just start. Just get outside.
KATY: There’s also, there is for like thinking big, thinking for that special occasion thing. There are nature family camps for like the summer.
KATY: Where you go as a family. And all of the teachers are there and it’s all day long. And there is a, there’s a wild food family weekend that’s some of my favorite foragers teach at. And they actually take the kids for long portions. So the grown ups are over here doing things and the kids are all over here doing things. And all of the meals are included and you are and they’re all like really good quality food. So search out something like that. Because maybe you’re like, “I can’t make it in my day to day life.” But if you have a vacation fund or you do something like that, maybe think about making some sort of nature experience what you do. Even if it’s just we’re gonna camp for a week in our own town, you know, and just live outside.
KATY: Or camp in your backyard. There, just start engaging.
KATY: The end.
DANI: Just do it.
KATY: The end.
DANI: Ok, I started this thing in the last show, can I keep going? The question?
KATY: Do it.
DANI: Ask away? And then I gotta go pick up my kid at nature school, we’ll make it quick. Ok. Her name is Annalee O.B. just like the doctor. “Hello, Katy. Is there anything a person can do to stave off an oncoming tension headache or even to treat one once it’s there. Usually when I feel a headache coming on I drink a bunch of water, try to recognize any tension, hold my head and neck… or if I’m holding my head and neck in a stress-inducing position. If I’m at home I try to use my foam roller. I’m curious if you have any other tools to add to my headache tool kit because sometimes I still have to take pain killers and I’d rather not.”
KATY: Well, I was the headache girl.
DANI: I know.
KATY: Like I don’t have any.. I am very fortunate in that I don’t have nagging things any other place. Headache is my jam. And I have it.
DANI: That’s a bad jam. I’ll just tell you right now.
KATY: Well I feel like we all have the thing. And headaches are my thing. I use my eyes intensely, right? Lots of reading. Lots of writing. My recommendations for decreasing headaches are probably less, maybe what she was asking for but since I don’t really have anything to do within the 10 or 15 minutes, maybe I do. Let me go back a little bit farther, though. One thing that I did that significantly, almost entirely eliminated my headaches was getting rid of my pillow over 18 months.
KATY: That was a huge trigger for me. Whatever adaptations that were in my head and neck from sleeping on a pillow had… it was almost like I was a tension headache, just a little bit of tension away from happening. I was already so tense in the neck and shoulders. Getting rid of my pillow just made my neck and shoulders so much more mobile. Also, walking. Like, I notice, if I get a headache coming on it’s like I haven’t been outside and walked long enough and so there’s a few variables that for me are noticeable. One is temperature. I’m too hot in the inside. The air is too stagnant or something. Like being really cold helps me keep off a headache. So I mean all headaches aren’t the same – it’s just for mine. Also like being able to look far away relaxes my eyes. For me, even though the tensions are in my neck or in my head, I feel like my eyes are my trigger. So lots of light, looking far away and the cold seems to be what’s going on. f I feel one coming on, boom, out for a walk. I’ll be back in an hour. Because it’s either that or be down for an hour.
KATY: So I figure it’s the same. Right, you’re not going to be more productive, like “Oh I can’t take the hour off work.” I’m gonna take the hour off work dealing with the headache so I might as well take the walk. And then lots of water. For me lots of protein. And so these are not what she was thinking but the last one maybe more along the lines – it’s the rhomboid push up. The rhomboid push up instead of tensing my neck and shoulders and trying to wriggle my head around to stretch it, I just go for rhomboid push ups which is you get on your hand and knees, let your head hang and you let your shoulder blades sink all the way together because, in order to get your shoulder blades together, you can’t force them there, you have to allow them there. And you have to kind of relax some of the muscles that are busy tensing your head up. So I’ll do a round of that. Get up, walk, drink water at the onset. So those are my tips. Hopefully. That’s my headache tool kit. It takes 18 months.
KATY: 18 months and
DANI: I forgot about the pillow. That’s a good one.
KATY: That’s a big one you know. I mean I was probably a Tylenol… I took two Tylenol once a week. Or two Tylenol once a week for… from being 16 until being 35.
DANI: I’m glad you don’t have to anymore. THat’s good.
KATY: Nope. Nope.
DANI: Good one on ya.
DANI: All right. We’re all gone hard rocker. Let’s take it out.
KATY: Thanks, man. Autodidactic.
DANI: Ha. I can’t believe that. You know what? I wrote down the date just because I gotta remember that next time I make fun of you for making up a word.
KATY: That’s not even the real word. I just totally made it up.
DANI: She knew the word and you didn’t.
KATY: I’m a box of surprises.
DANI: Yeah, you are. All right. Well, thank you for listening. For more information, books, online exercise classes, you can find Katy Bowman at NutritiousMovement.com and you can find more about me, Dani Hemmat, at MoveYourBodyBetter.com.
VOICE OVER: Hopefully you find the general information in this podcast informative and helpful. But it is not intended to replace medical advice and should not be used as such.