By Alexis Lynn Litz
At the most recent Climate Camp, I struck up a conversation with a man whose granddaughter was attending camp that day, about the movie World War Z and humanity’s fascination with the end of the world as we know it. The allure of the idea of the End Times is so strong that many films and shows about the inevitable apocalypse have been created and distributed by the media.
How is it that we find a fictitious end of humanity is so compelling, so terrifying, yet when we hear about the real indicators of impending doom, climate change, food shortage, natural disaster, drought…it just seems too impossible to fathom?
Just take a moment to really ponder that. What scares you more? A virus that turns those around you into mindless, flesh eating monsters or turning Earth into a planet that is no longer livable for humanity, let alone all of the other creatures. Unfortunately, the zombie apocalypse has already begun, folks. It’s happening all around you. What are humans except mindless, flesh eating monsters who are destroying the planet?
Zombie apocalypse meets climate change and welcome to the current state of the world.
This being the second climate camp I have been able to attend, I have gone to my friends to tell them about my experience and they ask, “What is the point? What do you get out of working with children? They aren’t going to get the memo about the importance of climate change so, why bother?”
I could not disagree more. By instilling an awareness and appreciation for nature in all of our children, we are preventing the spread of the zombie apocalypse. Unlike an overwhelming majority of adults in this world, the zombie apocalypse has not had time to imbed itself within our children.
Yes, the underlying purpose of Climate Camp is to educate children about environmental issues, especially climate change. The age range of Climate Camp is very broad and caters to children ages 5 to 17. It is obvious that not all of the children are going to get the same experience out of Climate Camp, but I would argue that all of the children do at least share one thing in common: they appreciate nature more after every single Camp.
All of those children not only enjoy being outside, they crave it, they need time outside. Nature piques their curiosity, invokes happiness within them and provides them with knowledge. I would even argue that children can feel the interconnectedness between themselves and the rest of the natural world.
So, in short, do these children walk away with a profound understanding of the implications of climate change and what it means for their own generation and the future? Maybe not always, but Climate Camp sets up a foundation for the knowledge they will gain in the future about these issues. It plants a figurative seed of knowledge, so to speak. They will go on with their lives and remember what they discussed at Climate Camp and question it.
But most importantly, Climate Camp helps these children enjoy some time outside, learn about the amazing things nature is capable of and how they do not have to feel like they are separate from that process. Appreciation is key; you cannot want to protect something or care about it if you do not have an appreciation for it first.
So, is it time to go outside yet?