The children, with the help of a few excited adults, proceeded to build a massive stick teepee. “Look at what we built!” one of the boys said proudly, showing off their work. “Can you believe it?” another child asked excitedly.
During this time of construction, ironically, no child got hurt–not even a scratch. This is rare. Children usually get some bumps and bruises while playing in the woods. Getting scrapes, bruises, and even scars was like a rite of passage when I was growing up. No cuts, no scrapes, nothing on this day.
As a parent of two girls, on some level, I can empathize with that chaperone’s fear. Parental instincts often naturally take over and we shout, “be careful” or “slow down” as we watch a child manipulate their natural environment. This is fairly normal and common. However, as a pediatric occupational therapist that spends countless hours observing children play in a natural environment, I also know that restricting children’s movement and limiting their ability to play outdoors can cause more harm than good.