Great Article From Orion Magazine On Nature And “The Rock Climbing Cure For Anxiety”


“Facing Fear” by J.B. MacKinnon

Do we need nature? Natural Spaces? Adventure? Contemplative time outside and the rush of adrenaline in a wild setting?

Two excerpts from the full article (click here to read the original – it’s excellent).

1. OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, the evidence that nature serves us well in mind and body has accumulated to a degree that approaches natural law. “The benefits of nature that have been intuited and written about through the ages have withstood rigorous scientific scrutiny,” notes Frances Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Yes, we still find these benefits when we measure them objectively; yes, we still find these benefits when non-nature lovers are included in our studies; and yes, we still find these benefits even when income and other factors that could explain a nature-health link are taken into account. In the face of the tremendously diverse and rigorous tests to which the nature-human health hypothesis has been subjected, the strength, consistency, and convergence of the findings are remarkable.”

2. To which I would respond: surely it was always thus. Were our distant ancestors, gathered around the fire in the lowering light, touched only by the awesome sunset, or did they also dread the awful night? Do we say that nature is only beneficial when it comforts, calms, and uplifts, as though there are no secret pleasures, no vital lessons, in feeling scared, disgusted, and uncomfortable? Is there a person alive who only ever wants the calm sea, and never the storm?


My Favorite Reader Response For Let Them Be Eaten By Bears

This blogger truly understands the Let Them Be Eaten By Bears Mission. Blog post + great pictures + a corresponding theme song.

I love it:


On Frank Bidart, The IOP, Nature, and Gratitude

I was reading the new Poets & Writers issue yesterday, and I came across this quote by the poet Frank Bidart (if you don’t know him, he’s been suggested as a future Poet Laureate by many critics and readers):

“We live in this awkward culture that tells people that they have to have a job, have money to buy things, but that the job does not have to be connected to one’s soul, one’s inner life or spirit or sense of self-worth.  On the contrary, the aim of work seems to be retirement where you can fish all day or go to Florida or someplace – which seems to me grotesque, an absolute impoverishing of the idea of human life.”

As my seniors were leaving the Integrated Outdoor Program yesterday, and I thought about all of the adventures I’ve been on with them over the past two years (snowshoeing, climbing, river swimming, camping, looking at the stars, biking, spelunking, etc.), I realized how grateful I am to get to do the job that I do. My job is an incredible daily blessing.  I get to be outside with young people.  I get to adventure and explore with them.  We get to read great literature together, write poetry, discuss philosophy, and lay in the sun.  We get to make primitive fire and wander off trail.  Take shelter under Coastal Redwoods.  Get lost and find our way once again.

This life is a good life.  Thank you to all of my seniors.  I love you.

Let Them Be Eaten By Bears is up for pre-order

Let Them Be Eaten By Bears – A Fearless Guide To Taking Our Kids Into The Great Outdoors (Perigee/Penguin Books) is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Click to check it out.