Raising three kids in Huntington, I always felt there were plenty of options for interesting and fun things to do on Long Island. But after spending three years living upstate, I discovered a program that has touched my family in a new and wonderful way…Primitive Pursuits!
In 2010, my family relocated to Ithaca, NY for my husband’s job. It was a fast and crazy move away from family, friends and some strong roots on Long Island, but we tried to stay positive and open to the change. Living in a quieter and slower-paced community felt like a strange decompression from the hustle and bustle of Long Island. At first, we were uncertain how it would all go. But it quickly became obvious that there were some silver linings for our family’s quality of life: the most significant being a re-connection to nature.
Living in Ithaca, we suddenly felt immersed in the outdoors. We certainly have opportunities to touch nature on Long Island, but Ithaca is a small town nestled right on Cayuga Lake (the gateway to the Finger Lakes) and it seemed like hiking trails, waterfalls and gorges were never more than a stone’s throw away. Being close to nature felt easier upstate, making us realize that on Long Island we simply had not taken the time and effort to experience the outdoors.
Ok, maybe you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal about nature connections…my kids get outside on the soccer field every week.” Yes, getting outside to run around is great, but actually walking in the woods, touching trees and listening to the conversations of birds has a tremendous benefit toward our kid’s and our own well being: mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally (check out Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods for tons of info and studies that back this up). But it can be tough to get kids on board for weekly hikes in the woods that they deem as, “Too boring!” That’s where Primitive Pursuits comes in and saves the day.
Primitive Pursuits, a non-profit program of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, is an all outdoors, year-round program that gets kids playing, laughing, learning and exploring in nature. Through a hands-on experiential format, energetic instructors teach kids wilderness survival skills like building shelters and making crafts with natural materials, using friction to make fire, identifying trees, edible plants and animal tracks. Kids absolutely eat this stuff up! Sessions are outside in woods and fields, using games, challenges, peer mentoring, community building and much more to engage and excite kids in ways that are reminiscent of simpler times from long ago.
My kids had the freedom to explore and touch nature and were visibly empowered by the skills and knowledge they gained. This was especially true for my emotionally sensitive 9-year-old daughter who struggles with school and life. It was extremely gratifying for my husband and I to see sparkle, joy and confidence in our children when they quite proudly told us the names of plants and trees for the very first time. I believe Primitive Pursuits has planted seeds that are sure to grow into a lifetime love of the earth. What an amazing gift to my family!
I was so moved by this experience, that I hung up my stay-at-home mom hat, completed the Primitive Pursuits instructor certification and have made it my mission to bring this life-changing program to Long Island. We moved back to Long Island in August, and the first sessions are being offered in Huntington in just a week! Check it out at www.primitivepursuits.com/longisland. Stay tuned because this is just the beginning of what promises to be an amazing movement to get Long Island kids of all ages outside and connected to the earth that surrounds them!
Weekend Winter Wilderness Explorers with Primitive Pursuits Events
Sign up here http://www.
Who: 7 – 11 year olds
When: Saturday, Jan. 18 & Sunday, Feb. 2 – Noon to 3pm
Where: Manor Plains Nature Park (93 Manor Road, Huntington)
Cost: $30 / day Primitive Pursuits is a not-for-profit organization offering nature connections for youth from preschool age through teens…there are even adult programs! Stay tuned for more programs in more locations throughout Long Island!In Gratitude,
By Rebecca Muellers, Guest Contributor and instructor at Primitive Pursuits in Huntington