|T h i s W a y t o N a t u r e in Chapel Hill @thiswaytonature.com
|Map of Sites
Anderson Community Park
Cedar Falls Park
Johnston Mill Nature Preserve
|Mason Farm Biological Reserve
North Carolina Botanical Garden
Welcome to This Way to Nature
Hello, and welcome! On this website you will find a variety of useful information about ten natural areas in and around Chapel Hill, North Carolina that are listed to the right of this text. Simply click on the name of a site (or its number on the map) if you wish to know more about any of these locations.
This website was constructed as part of Daniel Ripperton's Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project, with the goal of providing information on local natural areas where parents can take their children for recreation, inspiration, and free play.
Why go to these nature spots? Simple. These areas (and nature more generally) provide space for children to interact in a creative, productive fashion with the outside world. To quote from Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods:
"For children, nature comes in many forms. A newborn calf; a pet that lives and dies; a worn path through the woods; a fort nested in stinging nettles; a damp, mysterious edge of a vacant lot—whatever shape nature takes, it offers each child an older, larger world separate from parents. Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it. Nature offers healing for a child living in a destructive family or neighborhood. It serves as a blank slate upon which a child draws and reinterprets the culture's fantasies. Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and the full use of the senses. Given a chance, a child will bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it in the creek, turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of that confusion. Nature can frighten a child, too, and this fright serves a purpose. In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy, and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate peace." — Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, Algonquin Books, 2008, p. 7
Also, there is a fair amount of empirical data suggesting that children derive a great number of benefits from interaction with the natural world.
Cognitive benefits from play in nature can include increased creativity, increased ability to solve complex problems, improved focus, greater self-discipline, and better academic performance.
Socially, children who have had significant experience with nature tend to be more cooperative, flexible, and self-aware.
On an emotional level exposure to nature can reduce stress and aggression, and increase self-confidence as well as overall happiness.
Physically, children’s health and fitness will be increased through contact with the natural world.
Perhaps one of the most interesting benefits nature provides is a sense of place. It tends to ground you squarely in your immediate surroundings and the present moment.
For further information on the ways nature benefits children see this summary of research reports.
There are many things to be explored in these natural areas. So, you wish for advice? Pick one to visit as a family, and see for yourself what there is to be seen. We wish you joy in the great outdoors!