REGENERATING THE GREEN CHILD By Rosemary MacGregor
One of the strongest motivations for eco-tourism should be the influences it can have on our children. Here at the Mango Tree SPA we were visited by a top CEO from ECO Securities, the top carbon reducing company in the world. I asked this CEO what was the best way to change people’s behavior and thinking on “going green”. His answered saying we have to educate the children. Whether this is taught in the schools or Cub or Girl Scouts, these children will be the shepherds of the future.
In their wide-eyed innocence they will go home and ask, “Mom, we learned about recycling today. Do we do that?” If allowed, they will then either: teach, insist or correct the home behavior. Unfortunately, culture and population growth have been producing a succession of generations with less and less regard for nature. Also, there is less and less nature in many places to be appreciated.
Appreciation comes from being in Nature and the first five years of one’s life are vital for brain development. In those early years the brain is deciding which neurons to keep and which to discard… “Use it or loose it” as they say. Do we want our children to have brains that are global and one with the world or segmented into “Lego” or “Barbie” mentality? Toys, kinds of play and exposure are critical. The early environment that provides a rich-multi-sensory experience allows the brain to develop its integrative capacities….integration and regulation of sensory information. Pleasurable experiences are the catalyst in developing the biological foundation for emotional-social-sexual intelligence. Brain growth is truly experience dependent. A change in your environment equals a change in the brain. Our body evolved in a rich multi-sensory natural environment and expects to be fed rich multi-sensory experiences. Three dimensional experiences enrich the brain’s development significantly over a two dimensional symbolic abstract screen (computers and TV). Today’s graduates in terms of social, emotional and imaginative capacities are no match for the graduates of earlier generations. They are sensorially deprived.
I grew up in the tropical jungles of Sumatra, Indonesia. Our typical day was as follows: We got up when we felt like it (usually around 7), had a good healthy breakfast, spent 1 ½ hours in our home schooling course, Calvert School out of Maryland, went to the Club pool until lunch time, came home, had a big lunch, and when our parents took a nap around one pm, we kids got together to invent, play and explore. This was our time and we did everything from playing canasta with 12 decks to slipping through the tiger grass outside our home to go down to the stream to find new species of tropical fish to bring home to our fish tank.
In the afternoon our father came home from work and we had tea like the British out in our outdoor teahouse. Then we went for a family game of golf. We did not have television. The clubhouse offered two movies a week, Wednesday night and Saturday. As a large social group we met on those nights at the club house for dinner (we all chipped in) and then watched whichever movie we had been sent. It could have been Hop-a-long Cassidy or Ben Hur. That didn’t matter. We were a social entity enjoying and laughing at the craziness or wonder of the movie.
We lived in nature. My father was a rubber planter for Goodyear rubber and our home was surrounded by huge trees covered with orchids and our yard was full of tropical flowers. What are my favorite memories of my childhood? They are not television, recess, my computer or my Ipod. They are my experiences in nature: the pool in the jungle, my little 1 yard square garden my dad helped me develop, my chickens, “Donald” the white duck that followed me around, the tree we climb and held meetings in, the wonder of the new orchid my Dad grew. And yes, even picking leeches off ourselves, trying to avoid snakes, centipedes and other creepy insects, being at awe at the tiger tracks in our backyard banana patch, experiencing thunder and lightening, collecting huge toads in a pond, observing frog eggs hatch into pollywogs, waiting for the chickens to hatch and so on. I remember them all, good, bad, and scary and appreciate each for the lesson it taught. To this day these are my stories.
Our family time consisted of bicycling into the jungle via dirt roads, going with our father to discover a pool laced in the jungle undergrowth, playing golf, building things from scratch, and improvising.
In our modern society, the experiences of nature are vanishing. What can you do? While there are many options from joining nature organizations, green movements, taking a nature break, moving to a nature place, influencing your schools to teach nature curriculums, doing a family nature adventure each weekend, this article is about living in Nature or taking a Nature vacation.
Due to my childhood experience in Sumatra, I found I greatly missed the “green” in my life. In 2004-2006 I sold everything and moved to Costa Rica. I feel in love and mostly with the opportunity to return to be able to relive the moments in my life of my greatest happiness’s.
Tres Rios de Coronado on the South Coast is a place that embodies that natural genius of my childhood, a place of natural spirit and spirits. I am an adult now (in years at least) and yet I am back in the wonder of my gardens, the sometimes roaring river below me after a heavy rain, the many animal sounds that bless my soul from morning to night, and in fact, all night. We are constantly in wonder as to what bug is making this or that noise. One of my favorite things to do is to delve into search expeditions (with the spirit of the young at heart) for that different or unusual flower, fern or plant for my collection. We enjoy walking the beaches and exploring the caves at low tide or snorkeling off Caño Island, one of the best places in the world to snorkel. This is of course, after a boat ride through 25 miles of the world’s third largest mangrove area in the world and seeing the bats on trees, snakes, and caiman on the banks, unusual birds and thick jungles off to the OSA Peninsula side. After the mangroves, there is the experience of crossing the bar from river to ocean and then hoping to see the giant turtles pass the boat as well as pods of dolphins, maybe even a humpback whale. For the brave, jumping into the ocean waters and swimming in the ocean 50 miles off the coast. For those lovers of fresh mountain waters, climbing up one of our numerous rivers (Tres Rios) through boulders to discover as one climbs further and further up, natural river pools and bigger and bigger waterfalls.
I have barely touched on the positive activities for children and adults that are available here. There are many more, such as zip-lining through the jungle canopy, river-rafting, ocean fishing, eating and exploring new food in the markets, horseback ridding up into the hills or along the beaches, and visiting to open aired fresh produce markets.
We live much off our land as well. Our foods are fresh and whole. We have: pineapples, papaya, guyaba, avocado, cashew, lemon/orange trees, water apple, rambutan, and yucca plants. There are numerous plants that offer us cures for many ailments as well. I have not seen a child in Costa Rica with a runny nose. My worker’s son, at age 6 went to the local school for kinder-garden and was never sick the whole year. This is the land of health and longevity.
I have observed several gutsy families who have brought their children to raise them in this environment and decided to home-school them. I am amazed at the intelligence of these children. One of my friend’s child who is 11 years old has purchased 10 goats and is learning animal husbandry, simple veterinary skills, how to make goat cheese and simply being responsible. Another couple with two young girls ages 6 and 8 takes her children on endless adventure outings from zip-lining to botanical garden experiences. I observed these two girls and their two American friends who came to visit zipping out away from us full of confidence playing Tarzan over the canopy floor. I pictured the poor child in civilization being hand-held and guarded by their parents for fear of being kidnapped, being run over by a car or whatever else they need to be protected from.
Outdoor activity in other environments has taken a back seat today to television, video games, the computer, and a demanding work schedule. Solution: Change your life and the way you are living it. Get outdoors, travel, camp, explore, create outdoor hobbies, garden and so on. Be one with nature!
We welcome your visit to the Mango Tree Ecologe and SPA. Come and enjoy nature at its best. Immerse yourself in the Natural environment. Experience reduced stress, rest, relaxation, healthy food, clean air, mountain spring water, natural exploration, play and great food. You will have an unforgettable experience.
Tags: ECO-TOURISM, GREEN CHILDREN