Friday, 20 June 2008

Children in the forest

On the western side of Copenhagen there are a number of forests, which were established as part of the urban planning of the city which can be easily accessed using the public transport system, especially the trains.

Today I was able to spend some time wandering around Hareskovene, located to the west of Copenhagen and accessible by train from Copenhagen. The forest consists of a number of lakes, wooded areas, trails, fire places, shelters and even a primitive over night camping place. However, more than anything else it was a pleasure to hear the laughter of many happy children enjoying the forest. There is a culture in Denmark of taking school groups (ages 2 and above) to the forest where they are allowed to play and experience the outdoors. Hearing the children playing reminded me of the book titled Last Child in the Woods, written by Richard Louv, which highlights the challenges in the US society of encouraging children to experience the outdoors. Here in Denmark as in other places there is a tradition of taking children into the outdoors and encouraging them to explore, we are also aware of other educational systems in countries such as Scotland and England looking at how they can incorporate these outdoor experiences into the childs schooling. Let us hope that these activities can be continued.

If you are interested in obtaining information about state forests and walking in Denmark (Vandreture i Statsskovene) then we recommend a visit to the web site Vandretursfoldere where you will find information on many state forest walks in Denmark.

Note: for an alternative view of Richard Louv's book you may like to look at this article.