Canadian Rockies Trip to Muskwa-Kechika Combats Nature-Deficit Disorder

Organization says it's time to take our children into the Canadian Rockies wilderness.

| March/April 2010

Muskwa-Kechika High Country

Camping out in the Muskwa-Kechika, one learns to appreciate the vastness of nature.

Wayne Sawchuk

Victoria, British Columbia – It’s not every day you’re invited to meet a real-life mountain man or given the opportunity to venture into the heart of the mountains to learn about grizzly bears and bull moose.

Naturally, when the invitation appeared, I felt compelled to meet Wayne Sawchuk and learn more about this humble wilderness hero, his quest to protect a rare parcel of wilderness in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and the expeditions he guides. We got acquainted over a cup of tea, and I had the distinct impression my life would never be quite the same.

I’ve signed on for one of his summer expeditions in August, traveling through the sacred land known as the Muskwa-Kechika. The expedition will be a first: Wayne will be leading an organized trip for a group of youth and family members into what he refers to as the “Wild Heart of Canada’s Northern Rockies.”

A handful of noted and committed conservationists have banded together to organize the trip to help increase awareness surrounding this pristine land and to nurture a strong bond between children and nature. I became involved as the parent of a 10-year-old son who loves wildlife and the outdoors, thanks in part to the fact that I am committed that he not suffer what author Richard Louv calls “nature-deficit disorder.” (For more, see “Saving Our Children From ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder,’” from the November/December 2006 issue of GRIT.)

In his national bestseller Last Child in the Woods, Louv convincingly presents a case for a relationship between an increase of technology (over nature) in our children’s lives to an increase in conditions such as obesity, depression and attention-deficit disorder. As Louv writes, “Nature-deficit disorder is not a formal diagnosis, but a way to describe the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years.”

If our children aren’t exposed to nature, how are they going to understand it, love it and care about it? Essentially, the mandate for the Muskwa-Kechika trip is twofold: protecting our sacred wilderness spaces and healing our children.

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