When was the last time…

… you found yourself having fun in a tree? A couple of days ago – the best pressie we could arrange for my son on his 5th birthday was a visit to Point Walter (on the Swan River – Perth, WA) and this:

Alpha having fun.

Now this tree had most of it’s branches spread out over a canopy that would have been near on 25 square metres. Most of this canopy was no more than just over 1 metre off the ground and it was open in such a way that kids – with a healthy sense of confidence and balance – could freely bounce from one branch to the other, thus entertaining (and challenging) themselves for hours on end – at their own leisure. What more could you ask for (as a parent and a kid)?

It brings to mind a post I read over at Broadside’s Blog“I’m Boooooored! (Thank Heaven)” – an interesting read and view on this whole issue of today’s world and the way in which we seem to be chasing our tail in our constant need to entertain our own children – growing up in a world so reliant on technology. We start our kids young on this – if they get bored today – we put on a DVD. 10 -20 years ago it was a video (VHS mostly). 30 plus years and it’s a fair bet your parents might have used a TV. It’s not a new concept by any means – but I’m guessing that in the last 10 years, it’s become far more complex and – dare I actually say it – insidious!

Now you might think I’m going over the top here and that’s fair enough – but here’s why I feel this way. On one hand we have this wonderful, amazing, and constantly regenerating world – at our finger-tips – outside of our households (encompassed completely in this really groovy thing called ‘Mother Nature’) – but on the other, it has to constantly compete with an electronically generated world on the inside of our homes – inside of our computers!

Tell me something – please – how can computer generated software, ever compete with this:

Alpha enjoying himself Jan 2011

One happy Alpha...

For the record folks – I climbed into this tree.  This tree was tempting me you see and I found myself wanting to so badly – I just couldn’t help myself! When I climbed up into the upper canopy, I paused long enough to shoot a photo of my boy below. Since looking at this image I realised something in hindsight:

Surrounded by footprints...

All around my son – imprinted in the beach-sand and leaf litter – was the double dimpled footprints of hundreds of little peoples (and their associated big peoples) who’ve been clambering in and amongst this tree, having fun and enjoying what Mother Nature had to offer! Maybe these kids too had discovered the pleasure that can be found in climbing a perfectly good (and all organic / natural) tree too? Perhaps the parents of these kids – or their aunties, uncles, grannies, carers – whomever – allowed them the pleasure of discovering this fun-in-a-tree entertainment, all for themselves? I’d sure like to think so.

In coming back to Broadside and her post – I’d have to say that I’d agree entirely with what Broadside has to say – it’s actually your own responsibility to entertain yourself and it’s our responsibility to help our young ones to develop these skills. If we keep being their constant source of entertainment for them – we’re just asking for trouble! Sure – we’re forced to do battle with a world utterly immersed in technology – but we forget we’ve got a few things hidden up our sleeves: we’ve got our own experiences as a kid growing up in a world so very different to this one and, we have Mother Nature!

Believe me – nothing you could possibly simulate via a computer could come close to actually going out and discovering the real thing for yourself. Go out and re-connect yourself with the parks around you; get them down and dirty in your own garden; take you kids to the zoo; start a worm farm and recycle your kitchen scraps; find a project outdoors and enjoy yourself – enjoy your little peoples – discovering new things and also enjoying themselves. Go on – I dare you!

The possibilities are endless you see – and if you take this on – it has a profound effect on you in two key areas: one – this re-connects you to your family (not to mention other people around you) and two – it re-connects you with our wider environment and the world we live in. It reminds us where we belong in the greater scheme of things and the care we should be taking in interacting with the living world that’s all around us.

What have you got to lose…?

Belongum – Out!

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About Belongum

People bring 'things' to me. Not necessarily PHYSICAL things as such - mostly just the loose bits and pieces floating around in their 'brain-box'. Sometimes, they also bring themselves - and THAT isn't anywhere near as simple as it sounds. I come here to pass some of this 'brain-box business' on to the ether world, and to empty my head. Besides folks - I love a good yarn - so come and join me!
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11 Responses to When was the last time…

  1. Barbara Matters says:

    I agree to some extent, but times they are a changing. Therefore I offer this suggestion. Maybe our young people are taking responsibility for there own entertainment. Just because its different to the way in which we entertained ourselves doesn’t mean its bad or wrong ir that nature is forgotten. I do think there is rom for balance. Technology inside and tree climbing outside. The secret is to let the young ones experience the joy of both worlds thus creating balance and harmony.

    • belongum says:

      Bugger… now you’ve gone and done it! Here am I – trying to have a ‘Soap Box Moment’ and you go and ruin it with a dose of reality and common sense!

      I won’t be talking to you until… oh – about the 17th of Jan Barb -when I get back to work… is this ok? Hahaha :-)

      Yes – it’s about balance as well – I don’t think we have a choice anymore on this – perhaps our parents didn’t really have much of one too – perhaps the parents before lost a measure of control over this as well, because every generation experiences some amazing changes around them!

      I guess I worry for those who give themselves over completely to the ‘darkside’ – and allow the inside world to be the new true unit of measure for our little ones in this world. “It’s a scary world out there” is some of what I hear people saying and perhaps this might be true, but I can’t help but feel that it’s a darn sight scarier inside – living in a bubble that only a computer or tv screen can light up for ya!

      What will it be for my kids I wonder – what will technology bring for them as distractions from life?

      “Pot, Pot – this is Kettle – Over…”

      Hope you’re well Barb – yarn soon mate ;-)

  2. Oooh, I was going to say I couldn’t agree more then I read Barbara’s comment and now I’m torn! We live up in the hills on an acre, in part, because we do want our kids to be able to play outside, climb trees, build cubby-houses, etc. And yes, I certainly do use the tv as a babysitter at times. I agree with you that being able to entertain yourself is a skill and for some people it’s not one that comes naturally – one of my children is far better at it than the other. My kids are growing up in a completely different world to the one I did but I love that I grew up stealing my Mum’s broomstick so I could play Monkey Magic and they run around pretending to be Ben10 or Spykids and staking out the yard, talking on pretend walkie-talkies. It is about creating balance – the world today demands things of them that hadn’t even been considered 20 or 30 years ago – and helping them find their own balance.

    • belongum says:

      It’s so true isn’t it Mandi… this world demands things of our kids that we couldn’t even begin to consider in the time when we were kids!

      I was talking to a young fella at a party on New Years Eve and he wanted to know what military training looked like when I was a young fella. Did we actually fire rifles and make things go BANG!

      Yes – is the answer of course. We actually did do these things for real – we trained on what were known as ‘Sneaker Ranges’ where you had live ammunition and you worked your way through the course – weapon at the ready, live ammunition up the spout – fully ready to engage your target. This was during the late Eighties – our tactics were based on lessons learned from Northern Ireland and the British Army – so it was all about – surprise, surprise – engaging a landscape dealing with ‘terrorists’!

      We were briefed and sent out to engage the range. Double-taps… Bang-Bang! Shooting only those targets that we identified (in a split second – almost like what you see in the movies) as being hostile. We had to do it again if we shot a ‘friendly’ and were failed if we didn’t complete this appropriately.

      These days though – all of this is now done on the grandest of grand computer games! Our military engage a computer generated war-zone and are put through there paces in scenarios laid out for them in the E-world!

      A heck of an example of this difference I guess… but one I’m always mindful of. I want my kids to learn how to enjoy a ‘simple’ thing such as a tree now – whilst they still can I guess – because we all know – this bloody world of ours will intrude on their lives sooner than it ever did on ours! That saddens me one hell of a lot – as I’m sure it does you… why can’t technology help our kids to enjoy being a kid these days – rather than make em into little adults – well before their time?
      *sighhhhhh*
      I’m off to climb a tree tomorrow – don’t any of you buggers stop me! :-)

  3. Mandi says:

    Umm, that was me by the way. Sorry!

  4. Thanks for the shout-out!

    I LOVE the photo of your son taken from the top of the tree looking down. It’s almost like the tree is a giant hand, with all its fingers outspread holding him.

    This brought back some great memories of trees I climbed and how much I loved it. I attended summer camp in northern Ontario and have fond memories of sitting high atop a red pine tree. I recall its branches growing out at very straight angles, making it an easy tree to climb.

    Here in NY tonight, (I live 25 miles north of NYC), everything is covered in a thick layer of fresh snow. It’s silent and spectacularly beautiful. I think every moment spent in nature is worth it.

    • belongum says:

      No worries BSB… thanks for coming along to visit mate!

      I’m really enjoying your site, it gives me insights to your world (the US of A) that I don’t really get to partake in much over here (obviously – duh!).

      When I was a kid I wondered what this Summer Camp thing was that you fellas have happening each year – it seemed to be such a big part of the perceived American lifestyle. Is it something that happens for all of you fellas – or only those who can actually afford it?

      It seems such an odd notion I guess (for us Aussies) as we try to make our summer’s about the family being together. I guess this is so much easier for us to do as it’s our Christmas too and then there’s Boxing Day – and before you know it – it’s suddenly New Years! Our Chrissie school hols can be a crazy time for parents… maybe we SHOULD be investing in Summer Camp eh?!

      I have to tell you – I can’t even begin to imagine what a white Christmas looks like! Temperatures like 45 – 50 degrees C (what – around 110 – 125 degrees F for you fellas) are things that I’m used to – this goes hand in hand with the beach, the surf, the fresh seafood – which I used to catch myself as a kid – and backyard or beach cricket! All of it about taking advantage of the amazing weather we have and the time off to enjoy those around you.

      (It’s also a fine time to be thankful for the wonderful notion of air-conditioning, as sadly we live in a very badly designed and built house that was never designed for such temperatures or the weather we have!)

      NY (State?)… I wonder what that looks like for you mob in summer?

      Cheers ;-)

  5. Mummabare says:

    I can verify that parents have climbed the tree ;)

    Its our natural learning group. We meet every tuesday at Pt Walter during the school term and we frequent that tree. You will be interested to note that some of the play that takes part in that tree is actually inspired by video games. Alternatively natural parents like myself use technology to spread the word about the joys of these activities and advocate their importance. I guess when it comes to technology and nature, I lean towards the idea that the two can interact, in a meaningful way. Although I will readily agree with the statement ” all things in moderation”…when it comes to nature play…moderation doesn’t come into it :)

    Glad you had fun in the tree, will imagine you up there like a monkey next time we go and probably have a giggle to myself ;)

    • belongum says:

      You know what… as soon as I discovered that tree – I thought of you and DJ and your visits down that way! Haha – my guess is many of the little footprints would come from some of your group at some time – if not you fellas yourself! The boy had a fab time in it. So much so, he brought friends back and they all went off in the tree!
      I’m not sure any monkey (alive, dead and revered via folklore) needs to be compared to me – they might well form an official body and complain about my actions… it’d be downright embarrassing! :-) Cheers – hope I’ll run into you soon! :-)

  6. M says:

    ahhhhhhhh that is an epic tree right there! wow. I didn’t know they made them like that anymore.

    the thing about children taking responsibility for their own entertainment is really important – just not so sure they can do it while being so so very restricted in what they are allowed to do these days. Between heavily regulated timetables of oz kick and karate lessons followed by tutoring and piano kids aren’t even allowed outside these days without a body guard (and who can blame parents with the amount of scare mongering that goes on in the media about the evils of society). So in the end the child that has only a few minutes between appointments in order to choose what they want to do, most of the time can’t choose to say.. go exploring in the neighbourhood so in the end the imaginary world of video games suddenly becomes the very best choice!!

  7. go west says:

    Love the left field content but the photos are really beautiful

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