OUTDOOR KIDS IN AN INSIDE WORLD

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Rinella is far from the first writer to lament the “indoorization” of modern kids, but he brings strong credentials to bear as a veteran outdoorsman, Travel Channel and Netflix TV host, and author of The MeatEater Guide to Wilderness Skills and Survival, among other similar books. He begins with a thoughtful consideration of the late biologist E.O. Wilson’s concept of biophilia, the idea that humans are wired to appreciate nature: “We already know, both instinctively and empirically, that when kids and adults interact with real nature, they get mental and physical health benefits.” Granted, Rinella’s kids may take a deeper dive than most: In an early passage, he ponders the interaction of goopy deer fat, a fast dog, and raiding magpies, the latter of which perform an interesting calculation to see whether they can grab the fat before the dog gets to them. “I recognize that butchering deer and feeding fat to magpies might seem a bit extreme,” writes the author, “especially for parents who are struggling just to get their kids out of the house for an hour-long hike in the park.” With each interaction with nature, those kids learn a little more about how the world works and, by Rinella’s, become better-adjusted human beings. So how to get the kids to drop their phones and joysticks? The author argues that adults must be better gatekeepers of their children’s lives through outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and hiking and by reading about nourishing topics with them indoors—books about dinosaurs, trees, astronomy, and the like. It’s not a foregone conclusion that such skills and knowledge will help save the planet—“Our kids will be left to experience, or perhaps endure, whatever it is that they inherit from us”—but at least they’ll be better prepared for whatever comes.

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