Living through this time of COVID-19 is a unique experience for all living beings on the earth. We are encouraged to spend time in nature while adhering to physical-distancing guidelines. This period allows us to slow down and appreciate the life around us.
Spending time on the land means different things to each one of us. To me, it means returning to my roots and connecting to a place that taught me to be resilient. Growing up I was very fortunate to spend time going for adventures with my amazing four-legged pal. Together my dog and I loved exploring places that appeared magical and unique. We would clamber over rocks and run between towering trees. The smell of the cedars, the taste of the hemlock needles and the sound of the wind in the maples gave us the energy to continue.
I cherish those moments in nature which shaped me and helped me become more aware of my surroundings. Going into nature with your kids to observe and explore what is happening in the environment can allow you all to develop a deeper relationship with nature, to feel more rooted in these uncertain times and also consider human impacts on other life forms.
We invite you and your family to explore place-based learning close to home during this moment of pause.
To support families, Sierra Club BC’s Education Team has created hands-on educational resources that will help you continue to build your connection to place regardless of your access to the forest or beach. Using these experiential tools such as scavenger hunts, eco art, poster-making and storytelling will help you open the path to engage more deeply with the natural world.
Here are some ideas of how to connect with nature and spark meaningful discussions with your family and friends:
Engage with different views of what the land and beings mean to Indigenous peoples whose families have stewarded the land for millennia. Visit—online—the beautiful, symbol-filled 32-foot mural at Spencer Middle School in Langford. The collaborative piece Through Watchers’ Eyes was designed by tSouke member kQwat’st’not (Charlene George) and painted with the help of students. This piece invites learners of all ages into a new way of seeing and relating to the natural world and in pondering where we can begin when confronting the climate crisis. The comprehensive and free online learning tool can supplement your learning in between time spent outdoors. Be sure to use the tool for instructions on finding five unique geocache locations on southern Vancouver Island, which offer an opportunity to engage in places you may be familiar with, but with a new perspective. Access the tool at sierraclub.bc.ca/watcherseyes/
Marvel at big trees in your neighbourhood or local park. Standing amongst giant cedars and Douglas Fir branches will enable your kids to see the magnitude of carbon that old-growth trees hold and appreciate the power of protecting forests. If you can’t get out into a forest with big trees, I encourage you to download our Coastal Temperate Rainforest Visualization Activity to simulate walking through the rainforest here on Vancouver Island. To support your experience from your home, check out our free place-based educational materials on topics such as Pacific Salmon, Old-Growth Forest exploration, Coastal Temperate Rainforest and People and Plants.
Spend the day at the beach exploring seaweed. While identifying different types of seaweed, don’t forget to take a big breath in and thank it for your oxygen—more than half of the oxygen you breathe comes from phytoplankton and seaweed! Whether you can get to beach at this time or not, check out the packages on seaweed and marine life to support your place-based exploration.
Sierra Club BC’s educational packages are available at sierraclub.bc.ca/online-classroom/