Wyo rec managers target couch potato kids

The Wyoming Business Report – October 16, 2007
By Phil Noble

TETON VILLAGE — Federal and state agency managers concerned with recreation in Wyoming are considering a proposal by the Director of the Teton Science School designed to get children off the couch and into the great outdoors. “Doctors are writing prescriptions to parents to have their kids spend time outside,” said Jack Shea of the Teton Science School, “…a really weird sounding idea but symptomatic of what we’re facing today.”

Shea asked the Recreation Action Team, or REACT, made up of federal and state agencies which deal with recreation, to join in what he proposed to call “Children and the Nature of Wyoming.” He said it is his idea of how to combine all the various proposals from various federal agencies like the National Park Service called “More Kids in the Woods,” the Bureau of Land Management’s “Take it Outside” initiative and others designed to “have kids put down their Nintendo’s and get outdoors,” according to a supervisor from Bridger-Teton National Forest who conducted an outdoors camp for teenagers recently near Jackson.

The various initiatives, Shea said, are all part of a national movement inspired by a groundbreaking book on the subject titled “The Last Child in the Woods,” by Richard Louv, which argues that a generation of kids are losing touch with nature and the outdoors.

“Wyoming has a unique opportunity,” Shea told the REACT group meeting here, “to be in the forefront of this national movement with an initiative which combines all these varied ideas.” His plan is to raise $2.5 million from a variety of sources to fund “Children and the Nature of Wyoming,” which would conduct outdoor education camps for kids across the state.

REACT co-chairs Diane Shober of the Wyoming Travel and Tourism Office and Jane Darnell of the Bureau of Land Management appointed a committee to look into Shea’s idea. John Keck, Wyoming Coordinator for the National Park Service, John Emmrich of Wyoming Game and Fish and Milward Simpson, Director of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources will meet to report back to the group on the feasibility of Shea’s proposal.

“We have a very short window of time for funding this project,” Shea said, “so we need to move quickly if we want to help the kids of Wyoming.”

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