Safety, Compassion, and Wonder in Nature
by Cassidy Gillard | Feb 06, 2017
The outdoors have always provided me with a sense of safety. The vastness, the essence of the unknown, and the harshness of the unpredictability can feel daunting at times, however the safety of the wide open spaces, the invigorating fresh air, and the grounding closeness of the Earth provide such comfort to me that the rest just slips away.
Here at The Colorado Mountain Ranch, each day is spent almost entirely outdoors. Not only are we outside, though, we are in the mountains. There’s no traffic, no noise pollution, and the only hint that we see of the city is the view of a tiny little world spread out below us. Of course children love coming to camp here. It’s full of excitement, new experiences, new friends, and unique, adventurous activities. I very strongly believe, though, that the safety of Nature also provides children with a sense of confidence and empowerment that is unique to the ambiance of our peaceful mountain backdrop.
We encourage kids to play in the dirt, explore in the woods, and to be curious as they connect to Nature. In the past, I’ve mentioned how connecting to Nature is proven to heal emotional stress, and to make people more successful in general, however I’ve become afraid that society is being constantly pulled into the world of technology, and Nature is being pushed further away from people’s everyday lives.
I want to encourage you to move Nature back to the top of your to-do list. I have had millions of overwhelmingly empowering moments in the outdoors, and these moments constantly remind me to go outside and connect with the Earth. I could share hours worth of stories of climbing out of the Canyons of Utah after a month of being deep down at the bottom, unable to see further than the 100 foot walls on either side of me and looking out over hundreds of miles of winding canyons, finally having a realistic perspective of how completely secluded in the middle of nowhere I was.
I could share some stories of flying in a helicopter over the Chugach Mountains in Alaska, seeing how incredibly vast and untouched those massive mountains are, and watching a wolverine running straight up to the top of a peak. I could tell you about snowboarding down those same vastly untouched mountains, feeling as though I was flying, having to be constantly aware of not only my own body and each careful movement so as to stay on my feet, but also aware of every single piece of my surroundings, watching, listening, and feeling every single thing in case there was an avalanche.
I could even tell you about seeing the Aurora Borealis over the Chugach mountains, immediately bursting into tears seeing the red and green lights dancing across the entire sky, or camping right up the road from the ranch in Gold Hill and seeing the brightest stars, and the biggest moons, and the meteor showers that seem to be just barely suspended overhead. What I want, though, is to tell you about how being at the ranch has provided me with the opportunity to witness our campers experiencing these moments of pure curiosity and awe. The article attached to our newsletter this month (you can access it here) touches on the importance of awe. Experiencing awe gives us the opportunity to understand how small we are, and how many different aspects of the world there are which make it function. This sense of awe creates compassion, which is something that the human race literally depends on. Without teamwork, the human race would not survive. Without compassion, we wouldn’t be able to function as a team. The more we experience awe, the more compassionate we are, and the better we function as human beings.
When I see a deer, my reaction is usually, “oh, another deer.” When campers see deer, they gasp and point and stare in awe. When squirrels run across the path in front of me, I smile and continue on my way. When campers see squirrels running across the path, they stop and admire it, they giggle about how cute it is, and they watch it until it disappears into the woods. When I see a flower on the ground, I admire it, I feel grateful for it, and I continue on my way. When children see flowers they ask questions about it, they admire it, they appreciate it, they become enveloped by the beauty. Experiencing wonder and awe in Nature with children reminds me how lucky I am to live amongst these wonderful awesome things. Children’s innocence gives an even greater sense of this magical wonderful Nature that we live amongst. It is an incredible reminder of just how fascinating the world really is.
Let’s give our kids the opportunity to learn to feel safe in the outdoors, to become passionate about Nature, to feel a sense of awe, to learn compassion, and to inspire those of us who occasionally need to be reminded to fully appreciate Nature. There is no better place for this adventure than The Colorado Mountain Ranch!