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Thinking Outside….Without the Box

On Monday evening I had the honour of welcoming approximately 90 students delegates and their supervising staff to the Round Square Regional Conference cohosted by St. Clement’s School and Bayview Glen from January 26-31. The conference was being held at Camp Wanakita with the intention of providing students from South, Central and North America, Singapore and Australia with a true winter experience.

As we all know, the weather this past week has been truly representative of a very northern experience!

The keynote speaker was Colin Harris, founder of Take Me Outside, who spoke with the group about the importance of spending time outdoors. He informed the group that according to statistics humans, on average, spend approximately 93% of their lives indoors. In addition, students are found to typically spend up to 7 hours a day in front of a screen. Harris stressed the need to disconnect from screens and to get outside.

As I listened to Harris’ message I thought about my previous evening. I had spent the day in meetings with Heads of School from our regional Round Square schools and, as I headed home, the snow began to fall and it was beautiful. I decided on my drive home that I would bundle up- yes, snow pants and all- and head out for a walk. After an hour-long walk through the snow-covered streets, I felt wonderful- clear-headed and refreshed.

Harris ended his presentation with the quotation “Think outside: no box required.” It resonated, and while the idea that getting outside assists us with creativity is not a new one, it is indeed important. Richard Louv, a journalist, states in his book The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of the Nature-Deficit Disorder that “the future will belong to the nature-smart- those individuals, families, businesses and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

I appreciate Louv’s acknowledgement of high-tech presence as a reality while arguing that this must be balanced with time outside in nature.

While we have all been muttering about our very cold winter, and we do need to be mindful of wind chills and weather warnings, taking the time to be outside will only assist us with balance in life.

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