Cultivating Ecological Identities

Topic Progress:

Cultivating ecological identities requires children to have outdoor experiences with adults that role model an interest in the world around them.  Consider these two quotations from well-known ecologist David Orr and biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson.

Ecological literacy is driven by the sense of wonder, the sheer delight in being alive in a beautiful, mysterious, bountiful world. (Orr, 1992, p. 86)

“To keep alive his inborn sense of wonder,” a child, in Rachel Carson’s words, “needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in”. (Carson, 1965, p. 65)

How do these two quotations speak to you?  What images come to your mind?  What do you envision for children when you read these quotations?

Most adult environmentalists attribute their commitment to the planet to two things: significant periods of time spent outdoors in wild or semi-wild places during childhood, and an adult who showed respect for nature and served as a role model (Allen, 2013). Why is it important for our children to have such role models?  What might you need to adjust in your practice to be that adult for children?

An ecological identity encompasses these qualities of knowing and living in place:

  • Learning to read a landscape;
  • Coming to know a place and its local ecology;
  • Strengthening and being strengthened by a feeling of kinship with the living world;
  • Developing an aesthetic appreciation influenced by the patterns, textures, colours, lines and forms of the natural world (Orr, 1992).

There are five aspects of ecological literacy. Below the graphic, click on each of the words to reveal more information about each aspect of ecological literacy.

Principles of living systems

Ecoliteracy connects children to living systems. Living systems are open, self-organizing. Examples of living systems include the human body, a forest, or a river, as well as human-created organizations such as communities or schools. Connecting children to natural systems provides them with a deep sense of place and an understanding of their local environment.

Design inspired by nature

Ecological literacy is about applying understanding of the natural world to the redesign of organizations, communities, businesses, and societies to align with ecological principles.

Systems thinking

Ecological literacy is also guided by an understanding of systems, or systems thinking (sometimes called holistic or relational thinking). Because a system is a set of interdependent, interrelated parts that make up a complex and unified whole, it cannot be fully understood by analyzing its constituent parts. Ecological literacy involves applying a way of thinking that emphasizes relationships, connectedness, and context.

Transition to sustainability

Ecological literacy is partly aimed at triggering large-scale social change in how humans live on the planet leading to genuine sustainability of the planet. Sustainability is the process to create a vibrant society that reduces poverty and waste to create a diverse and vibrant community.

Collaboration, community building, and citizenship

Ecological literacy is about emphasizing collaboration and partnership as a hallmark of living systems and life. Ecologically literate children are also community builders and active citizens.

Visualize a place from your childhood that is special to you and represents a space where you learned in and with nature. Describe this place in the comment box below. What type of things did you do in this place?


  1. Jo White

    There was a river about 4 km from our farmhouse we would walk there whenever we could to swim and enjoy the forest around us, we would pick berries for our mother while we were there. We would see deer, ducks, otters and many other creatures, there was a huge tree hanging over the river we climbed it and would jump into the river from it, it was our climbing challenge. We spent every chance we could there it was away from everyone and everything, the only sounds you could hear was us, laughing, playing and the sounds of the birds around us, it was a very special place for walking, swimming exploring as much as we could, fishing having picnics. The animals became use to us because we never bothered them we often swam with the ducks and the otters. I can picture it in my mind after all these years.

  2. Angela George

    What type of things did you do in this place? There was a small park that we would visit when I lived in a group home, and during the day we would explore the park and play in the bush, but sometimes in the evening we would go back after dinner and go frog hunting, my favorite thing to do. We saw squirrels, racoons, bears, deer all kinds of animals and plants, it was magical.

  3. Christine Norman

    A very special place for me growing up was Goldstream Park. We spent many days and weekends exploring and camping with my Grandparents. Goldstream Park is filled with trees, bogs, birds, a river and many other various ecosystems. We learned how to climb trees, what different plants were, what various birds were as well as all about the spawning salmon. We developed a love for the land and environment and still spend lots of time camping and living in the outdoors. I still love to take my own family back to explore and observe all the exploration and learning my own children do.

  4. Barb Keller

    I grew up in a large city. Down the back was a back lane that had a set of bushes. I remember doing lots of activities in the bushes from hiding from people to bringing my dolls and playing school in there.

  5. Michelle Davis

    I grew up in a small rural town where we didn’t come in until the street lights came on. We were always outside. We would often seek out places that we thought were the local forests. Looking back on those times, I realize that they weren’t actually forests, but stands of trees in each other’s yards. But we were always there, with the trees.

  6. Lyndsay Titchener

    When I think back to my childhood I always went fishing with my grandparents. I loved sitting on the boat playing with the worms and chatting with my papa. I would get so excited when we got a fish and learned how to gut the fish properly at around 5 years old.

  7. Angela Walker

    I grew up on a farm with lots of trees and pond. So I got help out with the cows on the farm, play in the corn fields near the house got pick them when we wanted them for dinner. I played a lot out side until it was dark or bed time.
    Winter time we played in the snow for hours, go ice skating on the pond and sledding. Oh we had a huge big garden, I remember helping digging and planting and then harvesting.
    I felt really blessed to have these opportunities as a child.

  8. Shirley Robinson

    For me we lived in the city, but we always went to Stanly Park and explored all of the park. we would have our bikes, their were 7 of us kids, we loved going there every summer.

  9. Rachael Ewan

    I went to a camp and we spent a lot of time hiking and camping in nature. We went to one spot repeatedly over a few days and had quiet reflection time there. I never liked the busyness of the indoors and it brought me a feeling of peace.

  10. Dana Wilson

    Visualize a place from your childhood that is special to you and represents a space where you learned in and with nature. Describe this place in the comment box below. What type of things did you do in this place?

    We lived on a street lined with ditches on both sides. I distinctly remember playing in the ditches with friends. We learned so much from these places that most of adults thought of as dirty and gross. Thankfully I had parents who encouraged the play. I remember collecting the water plants that grew in them and I vividly remember learning all about the frog life cycle. We watched as they went from eggs, to tadpoles, tadpoles with legs, froglets and then adult frogs.

  11. Melissa Vail

    Visualize a place from your childhood that is special to you and represents a space where you learned in and with nature. Describe this place in the comment box below. What type of things did you do in this place?
    For me it would be the woods around my house. I spent hours exploring and climbing trees and building forts. I would gather some flowers and share them with my mom and grandmother. So many great memories of exploring and being outside for hours.

  12. lisa.rodney

    Visualize a place from your childhood that is special to you and represents a space where you learned in and with nature. Describe this place in the comment box below. What type of things did you do in this place? When I was young my friends and I used to play near a waterfall. There was a narrow grassy path that took us to the forest and from there we would follow another path along the brook to get to the waterfall. I’m sure now it wasn’t a big waterfall but at the time it felt like it. Along the way we would find the different things that grew in the forest – moss in the shady spots, fungus and old man’s beard on the trees, and we would often look for violets, mushrooms and four leaf clovers. We would stop to climb trees and sometimes bring a picnic we made ourselves to the waterfall. It was quiet but alive with the sounds of nature at the same time. It was such a pretty spot and very peaceful. We had all the time in the world when we went there – we could stay as long as we wanted and were free without the watchful eye of adults.

  13. Lindsey Cooper

    My grandparents’ farm has always been a place where I felt connected to nature. Not allowed inside during the day, my siblings and I got creative when exploring outside. We played in the barn and pretended we were wild animals locked up in the unused stalls. We went for bike rides to deliver food to the people driving tractors and to pick wild raspberries. This is the place I learnt to ride a horse and to take care of a garden.

  14. Kayla Mailloux

    I grew up in the country and loved a particular tree at my grandparents house, which I now own. This cedar tree was a source of many childhood memories. I was never alone and had my sister and cousins there all the time. I loved being able to climb the various branches and because I was small I could easily get places the other’s couldn’t. We all had our spots in the tree and mine was the highest. One weekend my aunt built us platform’s in the tree, it even had a second story.

  15. Krista Ambrose

    I grew up on a farm. Our yard had a large tree shelter, which I played in as a child. I would play hide and seek with my siblings or neighbours. I would climb trees. I would search for different bugs, animals, and birds. My brother and I created a fort with broken branches and long grass. There was no rules except come when my parents called me. Oh and stay out of there if there was cattle in it. Then I would head to the bale stack to jump around on or go to the huge sandbox we had.

  16. Jasmine Park

    Behind my house there was a mountain. I climbed up with my grandfather to exercize frequently. I still remember the fresh forest scent in the morning, the sound of birds or frogs (or cicadas), tall tress and flowers and the feeling of walking on the leaves, dirt, grasses and slippery rocks. Every season, I could see all the different shades of mountains and now I think it was such a blessing to have a mountain around me. I really hope that children have those good memories about the outdoor place.

  17. Anna Mary McKenney

    when asked to picture this place I think of my Aunt and Uncle’s hunt camp on Marten River. This is a place where I was allowed to basically roam free. A small recreational camp on the shores of the Marten River, surrounded by woods. We caught wildlife, watched moose, beavers, and other animals and learning about living with nature and preservation. I learned how to gut a fish and other animals to preserve the integrity of the meat and use as much as possible. We were taught how to skin to make leather and fur goods. We built fires and structures and cooked out in the open air. we were giving lots of space to engage in risky play and to take on responsibility.

  18. Jody Anderson

    When I was attending a daytime theatre camp when I was a child we would have a break for lunch. During this time my siblings and I would go to a pond nearby and look for and catch frogs. I remember hunting for them in the reeds and learning that they loved the mud and we would have to take off our shoes to be able to get to them. I remember learning to listen for were their croaks were coming from to lead me to their location. I remember that I liked that place much more then the theatre camp itself, I honeslty couldn’t tell you a single thing about that part of it other than the dress I wore for the final play.

  19. Rachelle Gregoire

    My grandparents farm. They had a garden full of goodies, a river we could go fish at, endless forest and horses. I also loved camping , we would rent paddleboats and powerboats with water skis.

  20. Nicole Robinson

    Visualize a place from your childhood that is special to you and represents a space where you learned in and with nature. Describe this place in the comment box below. What type of things did you do in this place?

    My favourite place as a child was camping. My siblings and I would spend hours playing in the provincial campgrounds which had a mixture of natural and man made structures. My favourite thing to do was to climb on all the logs behind our campsites while collecting various things for my soup. Each night we would leave food out for the animals (not something that we would do today, but this was 30 years ago).

  21. Katarina Ninkovic

    My own backyard!! well my childhood homes backyard. There were huge Elm tees for me to climb, and read and play and even jump from!!

  22. Jennifer Yarmish

    We would go camping in Jasper with family friends or my grandparents when they would visit from Ontario. I was always in awe as we drove closer and closer to the mountains and to this day find the drive to get places to be some of the best times. I was fascinated by the change in the landscape as our local Spruce, Fir and Pine gave way to more Cedar and the rolling hills of McBride became backed by jagged peaks covered with snow even in the middle of July. I would watch until my eyes dried out to see if I could be the first to spot wildlife!
    In Jasper we went horse back riding and checked out waterfalls as well as the Hot Springs…my favorite though was going up the tram to the top of the Whistlers….I felt on top of the world and like I could see forever.

  23. Heather Brekkaas

    We have a community forest with walking trails that we used all the time when I was a child. I kind of hated it because there were big hills and I was always tired by the end, but as an adult I go back to those trails as often as possible. My kids love them, they can explore and wander and enjoy nature and I get why my parents enjoyed going so much when we were kids.

  24. Bonnie Willson

    We had a large forest behind my house where all the children in our community payed. We built tree forts, played tag, hide and seek, and many other childhood things. It was our safe “secret” place, and I have so many wonderful memories from there.

  25. Karin Freiberg

    The “haunted house” on the edge of town was really just an old abandoned house but we came up with some wild stories about who used to live there. I found out later that the family who owned the house was aware of all the children visiting and would regularly visit the house to make sure it was “safe” for us to play in. They would even leave notes and items for us to “find”. It was truly magical and now I know why none of our parents stopped us from going there.

  26. Shannon Stewart

    My parents had a large crab apple tree. It provided hours of learning for us. WE watched the changes as it grew flowers and leaves then apples. We watched the apples turn from green to red and learned when it was time to pick them for apple sauce (no blender for us! We crushed the apples by hand which was so fun). there were ant that liked to live there as well. This provided hours of exploration.

  27. Jessica Garner

    One space that was special to me was my mother’s and grandmother’s garden. In these spaces, I helped family members to plant and care for flowers, vegetables, and berries. I has opportunities to dig in the dirt and find worms. I was able to watch plants grow and change. Often, I was given my own space where I had ownership over what was grown there. All of this was done in relationship with loved ones, seeing their joy and passion for their backyard endeavours.

  28. Angel Huang

    I remembered growing up at my grandparent’s house, we used to have mountain at our backyard, little creek in front of the house and rice field and vegetable fields on the side. I grew up in a farmer’s area. It was all about the principles of living systems, my parents and grandparents would teach us and tell us how thing grows and how everything related and connected to each one of them. Which is a lot of system thinking and design inspired by nature. How they use the water in the creek to water their plants and rice field. Yet now the country side, has changed. After high school, our rice field become factory area, which i hated so much, no more frogs or little fish catching. However, I’m glad at least I still have those memories with me.

  29. Tammy

    I learned a lot right in my own back yard woods. I learned to listen and watch intently for black bears as they are silent mostly and are not very afraid of humans. I learned to see the world around me one small space at a time and all the things I could see happening in that one small space. I remember getting courage to explore further until I could no longer see my house. I remember all the sounds and especially the smells of being in the forest.

  30. Julia Kunz

    The green strip-a long green bike trail lined with trees and flowers. I played, ate crab apples, rode bikes and climbed trees. Later as a teen I used it as a jogging route.

  31. Pamela Casorso

    Visualize a place from your childhood that is special to you and represents a space where you learned in and with nature. Describe this place in the comment box below. What type of things did you do in this place?

    Growing up on a farm we learned a lot about the circle of life of the animals. We played with bugs, worm, catapillers, and butterflies. I was able to walk through the bush whenever I wanted.

  32. Maria Agustin

    In my grandparents place, because they lived in the farm.During my childhood my grandparents don’t have TV or computer, but I love to go there. I play outside their house all day catching butterflies, dragonfly and grasshoppers. I love playing kites especially on windy days.

  33. Annette Casey

    Grandparents place 2 hours outside of Toronto. Going in the garden to get vegetables, fruit, digging. Only one television channel at my grandparents. Outside from the time you sake up till you go to bed.

  34. Mikaela Reyes

    Honestly, I would say I had a very limited place for playing when I was kid. I only played indoors as my parents were very strict. Going outside would mean dangerous and dirty. So when I became an early childhood educator, I was like my students, learning fresh from nature. It felt really good and I wished I learned to explore nature early on.

  35. Lisa Goldsack

    As a child my brother and I had several forts that we had built with our friends from across the street. We used scrap wood scavenged from our yard to build these forts, I would go there to play or sometimes to be by myself but almost always with our dog. We had built one fort close to our road, close enough that we could peek out at the road but nobody could see us, I remember feeling very excited that I could see cars on the road but they couldn’t see me.

  36. Amanda Funk

    I grew up in a city but would spend holidays on a farm in surrounded by mountains. the rocks, streams and wheat fields gave ample opportunities for sensory experiences that shaped my love of color, textures and sound. The thunderstorms, snowfall and dry heat let to snow building, swimming and lightning shows. I to this day can smell the air and know a storm is coming.

  37. Kimberley Thompson

    I was very lucky and grew up on a ranch by a lake and river. I was surrounded by nature, from all sorts of different plants, live stock, wild life and so much more. As a child what stuck out for me was not wearing shoes and being able to walk around feeling the different textures under my feet.

  38. Heather Diewert

    As a child I was fortunate to live where there was plenty of access to wild Outdoor spaces, yet oddly enough the space I loved the most was space in the backyard where we had to peach trees.
    Not only was it a place of refuge and stillness when I wanted to be alone up in the tree branches, it was a Pirate ship, and tree house, a source of climbing races with my peers etc.
    I tested my skills as I jumped down from the branches and learned my limits of how far I could jump from.
    It was a source of snack food, and I soon learned through trial and error when the fruit was ripe. I learned about the seasons changing as I watched the leaves change, and often used the fallen leaves to make pretend food. It was a great gathering spot under the leaves in the summer where we could cool down, eat peaches and connect with friends.

  39. Betty-Ann Ryz

    My childhood place was the bush behind our house, ‘crystal hill’ beside it and the quarter section of land that my parents owned. Crystal hill was formed when our farm needed two dugouts for watering the livestock. The bush was a combination of willows, maple, spruce, poplar and pine trees. My parents let me have a bench and an old wooden school desk in the bush. I spent so much time making mud pies, collecting crystals and burying them like treasure throughout the bush and our quarter section of farm land. Some days I planted the crystals too. Birds and squirrels would only visit. But they had nests in the nearby outbuildings. Our farm was a mixed farm with chickens, cows, horses, pigs, cats and dogs. My dad also planted various crops on the farmland. Tons of fond memories.

  40. Ruth Novak

    There used to be a giant forest that my parents used to take me to. There was a tire swing in there. I would explore and let my curiosity fly! I feel as though my imagination did improve! We were able to create something (birds nest) with all that can be found in the forest. I would climb trees to see what it was like to sit on a tree branch after like the animals in the forest! My parents gave me the freedom to explore my way, though at times my mom would tell me to be careful or that’s too dangerous, but sometimes, I did risky play anyways :).

  41. Amanda Christison

    Visualize a place from your childhood that is special to you and represents a space where you learned in and with nature. Describe this place in the comment box below. What type of things did you do in this place?

    Visiting a family farm in the UK. They have had the farm in their family for over two centuries and the property alone is such a special place and full of memories. I remember visiting in the springs and getting to meet the newborn lambs and actually being able to bottle feed them. I watched and learned how sheep are shorn and the process of getting the sheep prepared and ready to go to the cattle market. I loved watching the sheepdogs at work and how they were able to effortlessly round up all of the sheep into the pen. More than anything, I loved the beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the farm with the swirling of pinks and oranges in the sky.

  42. Nazia Mir

    Park near to my home was my favorite place. I love the different bird’s different singing. I remember I spend hours in summer around the tree and talk to the birds/

  43. Nikki Littlechild

    When I think of my childhood I remember spending a lot of time in the fields on our property, specifically the one by the hay loft. We would use hay bales to build forts and collect bugs, frogs and even baby mice.

  44. Minni Harris

    My special place was the beach below my grandparents home where there was a huge boulder that every chance I could get I would try to climb atop it my cousins and friends all could do it but me. Then eventually I managed to do I felt proud of myself we would hunt for bull head fish and keep them in jars and release them eventually. When I had the opportunity I brought my young daughters back to that place and shared my insights on how when I was a young kid the Boulder seemed like a huge mountain that I couldn’t quite climb.

  45. Cindy Spencer

    There was a cliff that was covered in boulders to reinforce the cliff, there was one opening that in the cliff that had a flat boulder that we used to play “house” we used mud and rocks and sticks as our plates and food and cutlery. We dug for worms, brought fish from the ocean to use as pets, found feathers to make blankets and beds for the worms and caterpillars we found. We spent all day everyday in that rock pit, imagining and being creative with the items around us, I loved going there as it was our little escape from reality. We were close to the shoreline of the ocean but we never had an adult there to supervise us, which is unheard of now.

  46. Lucie Pendergraff

    The large wooded area by my house in the middle of our neighborhood where I would go to climb on fallen trees, explore and just spend time alone. It was the only place in the middle of all the large cities I had lived in that made me feel at one with my surroundings.

  47. Silvia Martínez

    A place that is special to me is the backyard in the house I grew up in because I had made so many memories there with my mother and all of my friends before more to Canada.

  48. Charlene Durrant

    My step-father was raised on a farm. We would periodically visit the farm and his family in the surrounding area. This is one of the things I remember when I think of my childhood.

  49. Nikki Meyer

    A special place for me was going to the lake with my family. We were able to swim, find crayfish and run through the trees with my brother. We spent time playing in the sand, making fires to cook hotdogs and watch the sunset over the water. This love for the lake has impacted my life with my children, my parents later bought a cabin at another lake and we were able to enjoy time there since my children were born.

  50. Svetlana Babikova

    My special place was in neighborhood tundra, I liked to sit on the top of the hill, observe clouds passing by, make a flower crown and imagine myself as a queen of nature.

  51. Kathy Barnhart

    My special place was under my porch in a space that was big enough for me to pretend I was in my own house. It has an area for cooking and eating and my friends would visit me there and we played together.

  52. Amanda N

    I was born in a big city full of high-rise buildings, cars everywhere, and many people around. My contact with nature was minimal, but I remember that I would travel with my family to the beach twice a year when I was a child. I still remember the feeling of the water coming to my feet, the smell of it, and the shells that I used to pick.

  53. Caroline Driedger

    I grew up as a military child so we moved every 2 years . No matter where we moved my parents would ensure that we found the outdoor places to go, We lived in this place called Lake St, Denis in Quebec our house backed onto a large rock formation that led to a forest. My brother an i would try to climb that rock well we finally succeeded we fell a lot we had scraped knees a lot . My parents let us keep trying and encouraged us to do so.

  54. Nadira Ramnauth

    An outdoor place where I spent most of my time and learned about nature is my parent’s farm. I used to go there everyday with my parents, reap the fruits and vegetables and take care of the animals. I used to go fishing, climbed trees and got messy in the mud and water. I used to play and explore the farmland with my other siblings.

  55. Nicole Morrell

    We used to always camp in the badlands- I remember vividly exploring the hoodoos on a very regular basis. It instilled such a love for the Drumheller area in me just being able to climb and explore and learn that I now take my son there regularly.

  56. Mizuho Kashiwagi

    I grew up in Japan. My memory in my childhood is my backyard garden. I spent lots of time in my yard by myself. There were not many big trees around my neighbour. I feel that children in Canada are so fortunate to have lots of beautiful outdoor spaces to play in.

  57. Janet Huffman

    I lived at the base of a mountain, there were lovely paths to get up to the top- not easy but we always knew the reward of the view from the top. You could see across the city to the lake. There was much to explore in that area- grasses and some tree’s- but wide open spaces, sometimes we found caves that people were or had lived in.
    Now that area is completely developed with housing, but my memories will stay the same, a sense of freedom and exploration.

  58. Prabhulata Immaraju

    I spent hours climbing trees and gathering fruits, in our childhood we would aim Little rocks to lodge the fruit off of higher branches and try making contraptions that would help us get fruit off of the trees. We would gather all kinds of fruits and spread out mats n have picnics. We’d lay out leaves, barks, n shells of the fruit as our utensils and literally would eat all kinds of edible fruits, vegetables,leaves, flowers ( sucking out nectar) . I think most of my childhood was spent in the outdoors under huge trees , running n playing in the dirt and coming back home with stains of fruits n dirt on my dresses and of courses cuts n scrapes from all the play. Best times of my life.

  59. Jaclyn Geiger

    My friend lived on a far and in the field there was a small creek. Together we would explore this creek in all seasons splashing in the puddles and crunching the ice. There was freedom and lots of time provided to explore with no direct outcome although we would end up building and creating.

  60. Laura Mcintosh

    My family camped a lot when I was a child so my memories include exploring the forests and beaches where the campground was located. I can recall finding insects and looking up in the trees and seeing birds nests and wondering how they got there and how the birds knew how to build them.

  61. Stephanie Vieira

    At my elementary school we’re I used to go. My friend and I would always go to this tree out at the back of the field. Every recess we would go there. We would try and climb it. Have a lot of dramatic play around the tree. Pretend the tree was a magical tree and that we had keys that would open the door that we pretended was on the tree. Still today that tree still stands there in my elementary school.

  62. Ai Paul

    I remember we used to make snow castles (fort) with friends. Once we build it, we stayed in the fort for a long time (snacking, chatting, reading a book…) until families are telling us to come home for dinner.

  63. Lucie Theroret

    i grow up in Quebec My brothers and me spend hours catching grass hoppers ,frogs,fireflyes at night my best friend was a duck that put on a leash to go for a walk (i was 4 yrs old)

  64. Andrea Preissl

    I can’t think of any one specific place. We moved alot as a child so my environment was constantly changing. But we would go camping every summer and it was where I loved to be.

  65. Carrie Maclellan 

    We spent the majority of our summers on an island that had wonderous biking trails, vibrant vegetation, sculpted trees, rising and dropping tides as well as this is where I learned the most about nature and the animals that inhabit our region. These memories are the fondest of all my childhood experiences.

  66. Carli Olson

    We had a creek that ran behind our property when I was younger and we spent a lot of time there fishing as a family. We would throw pebbles onto lily pads and watch the river flow. We often seen an otter and a beaver. I lost my first tooth there, the same day I caught my first fish! It was pretty memorable.

  67. Heidi Dueck

    The field behind my home was where I spent most of my young childhood. I would make homes for rabbits and tunnels for mice. I was never afraid of getting dirt, or of bugs. I was allowed freedom and curiosity.

  68. Erin Lihou

    When I was a kid we had a “secret hiding place” that was basically tree branches that overlapped each other to create a pocket of open space on the bottom of the trees. I loved it in there and always felt safe and used to pretend it was my secret place.

  69. Trina Kelly

    To be honest, I don’t have a childhood memory that connects me to nature. Although, we have wooded areas around our town, I wasn’t really brought up to explore Mother Nature, sadly.

  70. Janice Duncan

    A place I remember as a child -I grew up in the city but I remember taking trips to the lake and scooping up minnows, going to the mountains on family holidays and being awe struck by the mountains. I enjoyed trips to parks in the city and always enjoyed the smell of wood burning. Most of my fondest memories and learning came later in life for me when I spent many summers out in British Columbia in the Shuswap area.

  71. Heather Howard

    I grew up in the city so when I would visit my cousins who lived not too far away on a ranch in the foothills, quite often we would be on horseback (all aged 9-14 by ourselves) exploring the forest paths. I remember so vividly that this was my escape. I would pretend this was my life and I felt completely envious of my cousins who did live this life. I was a little city girl that transformed into another person while there. I remember the love and connection I felt to being outdoors and even today it doesn’t take much for me to go right back there in my thoughts.

  72. Kathryn Armstrong

    I grew up in Northern Ontario and we spent all our time in the forest. Sometimes with friends but also alone or with the dog. We climbed tress, built forts, picked blueberries and caught tadpoles. we had so much freedom.

  73. Krissa Rathgeber

    We travelled a lot as a family and we were always exploring nature. One of my favorite memories was of playing in the ocean and exploring the coastline and shorelines. As an adult I appreciate all the places I went to with my family.

  74. Alphonsine Hategekimana

    I grew up in Central Africa where life is natural. So life was outside all the time. My friend and I had a special place where we loved playing hide and seek. We liked to go there to walk, run and spend more time in the evening looking at the sky, watching the stars and telling stories until my brother will come to call us for supper.

  75. Kamaldeep Sidhu

    I grew up in the small home was close to ponds and rivers. I spent a lot of time in fields and got a ride on buffaloes. I learned about the crops. I enjoyed with my cousins,neighborhood children going with them for swimming,swings on trees,playing tag at fields,watching snakes,birds and animals. I got a ride on tractors,ball cart etc. I have nice memories of being outdoor when I was child.

  76. Deborah Fehr

    I grew up in Eastern Canada. During the first 11 years of my life, we had a cottage in the Laurentian mountains. Most of the time the cabins was on 300 Acres of uncut forest. There was a man-made lake and trails. There were Acres of maple trees and leaves too many to count! There were tappoles and toads and snakes. We raised bunnies and ducks. There were dead animals and skeletons and beavers and beaver dams. There were rocks large enough to suntan on and there were hills to roll down and gladiolas. Lots and lots of gladiolas and gardens and rocks and insects and… and… and… A world of joy and wonder and experience.

  77. Christine Villeneuve

    I grew up in north eastern Ontario, and we were always outside. We were surrounded by forests, rock outcrops, and lakes. Some of my fondest memories of being outdoors was climbing the rocks to stand at the top at look over our neighbourhood from a new perspective. During the summer we would pick wild strawberries to make jam and can them for the winter. I also picked blueberries and raspberries, learned how to build a lean-to, and identified local flora and fauna.

  78. Patricia Lynch-Staunton

    Visualize a place from your childhood that is special to you and represents a space where you learned in and with nature. Describe this place in the comment box below. What type of things did you do in this place?

    I spent my young childhood across the road from a large park bordering the North Saskatchewan river. Trails led to the ‘river bottom’ as we called it. It was so quiet there compared to the traffic above. The area was forested with winding trails, leading to fire pits. The bank of the river was very close to these trails. We cooked hot dogs and roasted marshmallows over these fire pits. (I’m pretty sure we nicked the matches from our parents). Lots and lots of children were down there everyday. We threw rocks into the river, paddled at the edge of the river, walked the trails, hid from each other within the trees, climbed up the trusses of the bridge. We picked pussy willows, the surest sign that spring was really here. We’d stand at the top in the park and use binoculars to spot anyone below, hiding and running through the trees. If you were spotted, you were out and had to come up! We’d use sticks to draw in the packed soil, bury treasures, unearth stones, build cairns with rocks , leave messages in the trees for other to find. I don’t recall ever seeing an adult down there.

  79. Joanne Falk

    My siblings and I love to spend time outdoors when we were younger. Often we would be in our backyard bush on the tire swing or climbing trees. We would sit in the trees and listen to the birds, see butterfly’s flying around and be out there till we got called in for supper!

  80. Daniela Rodriguez

    My parents always encouraged my sister and me to spend time outdoors. With my sister, we played a lot in the garden and in the pool. Invented our own stories and created characters for every single one. Really fun times.

  81. Alison Rinas

    I grew up on a farm in SK, and one of my fondest memories, is playing in the back of the yard in an old water trough and pretending that these glass bulb like items were glasses and I was pouring the water (which was probably rain water collected over time) in and out of these glasses making up a story to go along with my play. I recall being so proud of the bulbs I found and how fun and happy I was to be playing in the water. My own natural water table. 🙂

  82. Randi Robertson

    I grew up in the small town of Lake Cowichan so i am always near forests / lakes and rivers. Growing up, i spent a lot of time at my great grandparents house on the lake, my cousins and i learned how to swim there, we would play all sorts of games in the trees behind the house and were always enjoying the nature. Growing up we had lots of bonfires, camped at all sorts of places and enjoyed all that the outdoors has to offer. I have many memories of being outdoors as a young kid.

  83. Susanne Saunders

    I don’t remember my childhood every well. But part of my gowning up I live on the prairies. Big open endless space to move around. Going for walks and birds would fly out of bush and scare me.

  84. Charmee Penner

    I grew up on a family farm with acreage. There is a creek that runs through the property. Some of my fondest memories are from the farm, exploring the creek bed, skipping rocks, looking for beaver dams and waiting and watching for beavers. There are also sand dunes on the property, I remember walking a mile each way to go to the sand dunes and look at the holes that birds, snakes and gofers made. I would look for tracks and identify them and would wander around looking for cactuses that grew out of the dunes.

  85. Anita Morgan

    I grew up going to my parents cabin. The cabin is down in a valley right by a river. I spent much of my childhood in the river and on the banks. The sounds of running water make think of the river. I remember skipping stones, catching fish, looking for clams, seeing beavers and their dams, tons of birds including owls, hawks and bald eagles, and tubing floating down the river for miles

  86. Taylor Aichelberger

    My grandparents property was a very special place for me growing up, and I spent a huge amount of time there from the moment I was born until they sold it just a few years ago. It was composed of several acres featuring wildflowers, a small orchard of fruit trees, a large vegetable and herb garden, a greenhouse and lots of wild berry bushes including blackberries and red currants. There was a farm on one side of their property with cows that would come up to the fence to greet us, and nothing but thick green forest on the other side. I loved gardening with my grandparents, planting and harvesting food, foraging for berries, picking the apples and plums from the trees, running barefoot through the green grass and watching the bees and hummingbirds dance around in the garden.

  87. Kim Hoey

    I grew up next to a creek which ran through my parents farm land. We were there all the time. We caught cray fish, minnows, built things with rocks. We went swimming. My Dad even shovelled the snow off of it a few winters os we could go skating. We found animal tracks and animals also. Weasels, fox raccoons. So many great memories.

  88. Jessica Popp

    I was just chatted with my child about this yesterday, when growing up we had three neighbouring houses that did not have fenced yards and we backed onto a green space, we explored and roamed freely for many wonderful hours in the summer sun and deep snow.

  89. Laurie Millions

    When I was younger a few friends and my sisters would take a boat and paddle out to an island by our grandparents camp. we would play for hours pretending that we lived there. We would make spears from sticks to hunt for our food. I always looked forward to going out to our grandparents camp.

  90. Romy Ralph

    My grandmother’s garden was a very special place for me growing up. She taught me about soil and plants and how to take care of them. She also introduced me to the other creatures that visited her space such as humming bird, butterfly’s and bugs in the pond. I love gardening to this day.

  91. Devina Soares

    The woods surrounding my house was my favourite playground growing up. Even if the landscape changed between moves the same elements were always constant. This allowed me the freedom and security to explore the woods no matter we ended up living.