Nature is All Around Us

MOGLi Mets - An Interview with Claudia Wassermann

Claudia Wassermann – a nature and wilderness educator, mother, and teacher – invites us to open our eyes to something we often overlook: nature. In our daily lives, we often fail to consciously notice it. Yet, it's the subtle, everyday encounters with nature that we can pay more attention to.

Claudia Wassermann – Nature Educator and Teacher

Claudia, tell us more about your understanding of nature! How can we experience nature in our daily lives?

From our first to our last breath, we are all part of the overarching system of nature. However, our reality – the modern world – often disconnects us from the processes of nature. Just because we believe we can influence many natural processes – like the day-night cycle or temperature fluctuations – doesn't mean we can't benefit from seeing ourselves as part of the bigger picture. For children and young adults, understanding oneself as part of nature is fundamental. This understanding can help overcome barriers to spending time outdoors. Experiencing nature can seamlessly integrate into our daily lives. For instance, admiring the full moon and wondering when it will be full again, or noticing new shades of green and blossoms in the park during spring. Nature is always around us; we just need to sharpen our perception.

That makes sense. But why do you think the modern world allows for less connection with nature?

In our daily lives, we often shield ourselves from natural processes: We use blinds to block sunlight, install multi-glazed windows to protect against cold and noise, drink bottled water, and find it normal to have strawberries and asparagus in December. We rely on Google Maps to navigate, and experience weather mainly through apps. If not reminded by an app, we might move between our home, car, daycare and workplace without ever wandering through a natural space. How then can we know when birds are nesting or which tree has smooth bark? Nature is meant to be touched, observed, listened to, and smelled, but that's only possible when we're outdoors – amidst clouds, wind, trees, water, rocks, and grass.

What can be done to counteract this?

We need to naturally integrate nature into our daily lives. Many natural spectacles still occur: sunrises and sunsets, constellations, animal tracks, weather phenomena, migratory birds, and more. It's up to our perception to pay more attention and let our curiosity roam free.

In your opinion, how can we foster a connection with nature in children?

A lot depends on what families model for their children: How much time is spent outdoors? What do they experience? How do caregivers behave towards nature? Teenagers, on the other hand, look to their peers. Experiencing community is vital for them, best achieved through nature camps, hikes, and youth retreats. These offer great potential to promote a natural connection.

Can you elaborate on why experiences with nature are essential for children's development?

Nature invites a form of learning that aligns with children's curiosity and development. It's meant to be experienced with all senses, constantly posing new questions and challenges. Natural experiences leave a deeper impression than abstract rules.

A strong connection to nature is as primal as the trust a newborn has in its caregivers.

What role can nature and wilderness educational programs play?

They can certainly enhance children's perceptual skills. Moreover, the right conditions must exist for people to feel comfortable in nature. Nature education can create spaces where people can reconnect with natural processes.

What advice do you have for parents?

Parents play a pivotal role as they model how to perceive and understand nature. A positive attitude, curiosity, joy in discovery, and trust in natural processes can support their children's experiences with nature. Shared outdoor experiences leave lasting memories. Often, parents just need to embrace their children's curiosity to discover new things.

Do you have tips for parents to motivate their kids to spend time outdoors?

It's simple: Spend as much time outdoors as possible! Do everyday things like eating or sleeping under the open sky. Engage in practical activities like drawing water from springs, making fire, or observing birds. And most importantly, make nature fun. For instance, have a late-night party with fireflies or embark on an adventurous night hike in the woods.

Take every question related to nature as an opportunity to observe or learn something. Ask questions together and experiment! Which trees provide the best shelter from rain? Or where does the stream behind the kindergarten flow?

Lastly, what are your favourite games and activities with kids?

Various activities like stealth and tracking games, sensory games, building shelters, making fires, cooking on fires, or sharing stories around a fire.



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