Why teens should make time to explore natural places

With over last twenty-five year’s experience in outdoor and environmental education, Dean and Annette Turner have found that around five to fifteen per cent of teens thrive on challenging journeys, while the majority thrive on nature wandering and immersion. Here are some of their ideas and recommendations on how to help teens take the time to enjoy their own nature immersion and wandering experiences.

Slow down. Nature slows down time itself. Just getting teens away from schedules and the internet allows time for closer personal connections, and to connect with other facets of life: time just to be.

Make time for exploration. Structured habitat or wildlife surveys are great ways to achieve this as they provide a sense of purpose and get teens up close and personal with nature. Another way is through nature art, working with colour and shapes and using nature’s patterns for inspiration.

Allow time to wander. Take time to wander through the landscape rather than just head to a destination. For example: set out on a journey and have a few options for campsites; on a short journey, include a suitable area in the middle to divert attention for a few hours and still achieve the same overall direction over the course of the day – a few enticing gullies, a rolling area of hills where you can zig and zag a few times, lakes and creeks to stop at and wander around.

Support leadership. Knowing the country well provides a leader or guide with the confidence to plan such opportunities to enthuse other teens. Being permitted to choose and explore the bush, with leader support, can be very empowering for young people.

To learn more about Dean’s and Annette’s teen mentoring activities visit The Crossing