Page 2 of 3
"Our kids are going to have a different perspective on it just because there's been such a shift in the last generation and I can only foresee a bigger shift in the next generation of kids coming up."
Woodruff and Johnson are not alone in their unshakeable beliefs about the dire need for children and their mothers to relish time in nature together.
In Squamish, chiropractor Ange Wellman-Drysdale has embarked on a personal mission to spur mothers to take to the forest. The group, Squamish Babes in the Woods, was founded in 2011 by Wellman-Drysdale out of a desire to share time in nature with her daughter and to form a community of mothers.
Embarking on twice-weekly hikes in the Squamish area during the summer, mothers don their backpacks and with babies onboard, set off on the trails.
Helping new mothers to feel part of a community of mothers is an essential component to her group, Wellman-Drysdale noted.
"I think first and foremost, being a new mum can be an isolating experience," she said. "You are going through a lot hormonally ... it's a massive life transition. I wanted to create an atmosphere where everyone felt welcome."
She says she feels her daughter has benefitted enormously from the time outdoors.
"I felt with my daughter it was so healthy for her to be in the woods ... I felt like after we got back from our hike, she would be so happy, babbling more than at any other time of the day."
Wellman-Drysdale said that this summer, in addition to the mother-baby hikes, she will be introducing Hikes for Tikes – an opportunity for mothers and toddlers to wander in the forest and explore together and develop that bond between mother and child.
"For me, being in nature is a very spiritual experience even if you are not consciously aware of it, I think babies are the essence of life and so is nature and I think to have them in the natural environment at such a young age is really, really good for them."
That connection with Mother Earth needs to be nourished in young adults as well, says mother of two, Heather Royal of Squamish.
When her eight-year-old daughter Tehya Royal Brant announced one day she wanted to be a naturalist, Royal did not quash her dreams – instead she assisted her in the creation of the Squamish Young Naturalists Club (SYNC), which has been very active in recent months, drawing in community experts to lead monthly field trips.