starting a family nature club
If you are interested in starting your own family nature club, please check out the Children and Nature Network’s very insightful page for family nature clubs, including a 20 page downloadable toolkit at http://www.childrenandnature.org/natureclubs/
Tips from KIVA for a successful Family Nature Club:
1. Be committed to a simple goal. Our goal with KIVA has been “Play, Learn, Volunteer.”
2. Read. Books, such as Last Child in the Woods and A Natural Sense of Wonder: Connecting Kids to Nature Through the Seasons, will inspire you to make a difference. (link to summer reading list)
3. Plan your event. Once inspired, set the schedule based on your level of dedication. Are you interested in one event or an ongoing event? Plan your event and be aware of other local efforts.
4. Be organized. Have a time frame in mind for your event. Is it a half-day hike or two hours of exploration at dusk?
5. Ask for permission. Many public parks require a special event permit for large events. Check local government websites for guidelines. Make sure that they are clearly understanding your efforts. We have repeated over and over that one reason we started KIVA was to thank the local government for setting aside and maintaining so many lovely parks for area families.
Spread the word:
6. Invite everyone! Use local media, newspapers, television, radio! These people want to show that they are community oriented. Get to know these people. Keep them updated, but don’t overwhelm them. They have other events to cover, other than yours.
7. Make sure to mention any special supplies that you want people to bring beyond the basics of water, sunscreen, and hats. If they will be near a creek, a change of clothes might help. If you are hiking in the woods, remind each person to wear orange. These bits of information help parents be prepared. Prepared parents are happier parents.
8. Ask for help. Creating the outdoor adventure club was a great simple idea. The many nights of sending out letters, writing to local politicians, creating a newsletter, and juggling e-mails is taxing.
On the Day of the Event:
9. Be a team. A couple of people, working together, can make the event run more smoothly. Make it a family affair.
10. Always demand that parents stay with their child at all times. Period.
11. Have fun. That’s the reason you are getting out anyway, right.
Beyond the basics:
12. Be ready. Ask locally and nationally for support. This support can come in the form of supplies, crafts, and volunteers. I have not asked for cash, instead I ask for specific items that will allow us to give each child something they can create or take home with them.
13. Send thank you notes. Ask for support in person, whenever possible. But always send a letter (Create your own letterhead!) of thanks soon after. This will hopefully ensure return supporters. Word will spread eventually, but set aside some time to get this process started.
Many thanks to Mrs. Amy Pertschuk of Children and Nature Network