From the March 2016 issue

A Popular Refrain

This month marks 10 years that I’ve been the editor of Metro Parent. 10 years! And this, dear reader, is my 119th editor’s letter. My first one was in May 2006, the first issue that I truly planned after my predecessor left. After so many years and so many letters, the peril is repetition. Did I already use that anecdote? Have I already covered that topic?

But this month I know I’m singing a tune I’ve sung before – and I don’t care.

I’m not a particularly religious person, though I respect those who are, and I can be skeptical about pills and remedies for all of the things that ail us, but there is one thing that I truly believe has a powerful and positive effect on us – nature!

Just last month I went to Florida to visit my folks. I stood on the beach and let waves crash into my legs, recede back into the ocean and then come back again and crash into me, scattering seashells and smoothing out the sand beneath my feet. As I stood there, I felt so alive, so present and in awe. I felt the same way in my backyard last summer watching a cardinal flit from branch to branch. The ocean is mighty, but its true power is beyond its physical force and size. And even the watching the work of the tiniest ant can transfix me with a sense of calm and wonder.

So many studies tell us that spending time “communing with nature” reduces stress and anger, can improve our cognitive performance and connects us to something larger than ourselves. And that right there, getting out of our own heads, can have huge psychological benefits for kids and adults.

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That’s why in this issue of Metro Parent, we decided to feature some of the best Michigan camps – the traditional ones that give kids a chance to connect with nature instead of a screen. Now don’t get me wrong: Feel free to sign up your kids for Chinese and coding classes this summer. That’s great. But I hope you also make a point of signing them up for something where they get to jump in a lake, drag sticks through the dirt and watch fireflies twinkle at dusk. If I had a top-10 list of wishes for you from the 10 years I’ve been editor here at Metro Parent, getting more nature time for your family would be near the top. Curious about what my other 10-year takeaways are? Head to MetroParent.com/DearReader to find out.

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