Memories of wilderness: past, present & future

Who doesn’t have a memory or two from childhood about an incredible wilderness experience? My childhood was blessed by wilderness – and it is important that children now, and in the future, have the same opportunities.

I think back to my favorite outdoor adventures. My two sisters and I loved nothing more than playing in the vast field behind our childhood home, or exploring the densely wooded forest nearby our grandfather’s house.  Birthday parties consisted of outdoor scavenger hunts and weekend outings were spent at Presque Isle State Park flying kites, snorkeling in Lake Erie, and collecting driftwood and beach glass for arts & crafts projects. During the summer my family and I would cram together and drive out to Maine for a week of camping in the breathtaking Acadia National Park. Those 14 hour car rides were quite painful for us three young girls (and our parents, I’m sure!), but all negativity diminished as soon as we reached our destination.

Maine Kayaker 2009

These are memories that I will never forget. I think about these moments and can smell the fresh ocean air in Maine, hear the breeze run through the tall grass behind our old house and feel the fall leaves crunch beneath my feet. My parents did a great job of making these memories last forever by taking countless photos of us.

Spending time outdoors was (and is) something very important to my entire family. One thing I was never able to understand was why people were unable to peacefully live with our wild neighbors. These creatures enriched my life. It was not uncommon to find me assigning names to our regular backyard visitors, or rescuing baby bunnies and birds from vicious neighborhood cats. I felt a special bond with these animals and remember so clearly the heartbreaking emotions I felt when the beautiful field behind our house was destroyed and turned into a brand new cookie-cutter neighborhood. I cried and cried as I watched the lush, uncultivated area transform into a desolate landscape. But what would happen to all the animals? Where would they go?

Long eared owl © Melanie Hill

Witnessing the many ways people and wildlife interact with one another has always been incredibly fascinating to me. Most animal species have been around much longer than any of us humans have, though we have no problem pushing them out when we feel the need to expand our populations and resources. Many people welcome these encounters with wildlife, some do their best to deter them with appropriate measures, and others might prefer that these nuisances just disappear. Why is it so different for some people? Is it fear, or perhaps a lack of understanding? Are we losing our connection with the natural world?

“Half the world for humanity, half for the rest of life, to make a planet both self-sustaining and pleasant” – E.O. Wilson

To ensure that our planet is a place where both humans and nature can thrive, WILD proposes that we view our exchange with nature as a relationship. As with any relationship between family members, significant others, or friends, we must each go halfway in order for this alliance to be a healthy one. If one party does nothing but take- the other is sure to disappear. The same goes with our relationship with nature; it’s time to give back to our beautiful planet so we humans and our wild environment can be united as one happy, healthy family.

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I think back to my days as a child and wonder what my memories would look like if we took nature out of the picture. It’s a scary thought, and I can’t even imagine what a suitable replacement would be. Instead and because I am inspired by WILD’s many supporters, I’ll take the high road and focus my efforts on helping create a wilder future for our planet. One single person can’t do this alone, so find out how you can get involved and make a wilder world where nature GETS half!

I Am The WILD Half– are you? Join our social media campaign today on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and help us start a dialogue for wilderness, worldwide. And be creative! We welcome all types of media, whether it be pictures, poetry, artwork, videos- you name it.

Learn more about the Nature Needs Half vision >

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