Norwegian Outdoor Exploration Center lauded |

Norwegian Outdoor Exploration Center lauded

Submitted by David Patterson

When was the last time your kids had this much fun outdoors? The Norwegian Outdoor Exploration Center in Park City was recently lauded for its efforts to bring kids back to nature. (Photo by David Patterson)

Park City’s Norwegian Outdoor Exploration Center (NOEC) was recently recognized by the Children and Nature Network (C&NN), the leader and founder of the national movement to "get children back to nature."

After reviewing the local program, CN&N lauded NOEC for its efforts to get kids unplugged and to encourage a deeper respect for nature. NOEC is now listed on CN&N’s "movement map" which includes all of the organizations that meet its criteria.

The movement to re-connect kids to nature was spurred in large part by the book "Last Child in the Woods," a national bestseller by Richard Louv. First written as a theory, Louv’s book linked the alarming increases of childhood obesity, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to children’s recent absence from nature. He coined the phrase "Nature Deficit Disorder," and since the release of his book, research has begun to support his theory.

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Seven-and-a-half hours a day. That’s how much time the average 8 to 18-year-old now spends using electronic media, and that doesn’t count the hour-and-a-half spent texting, nor the half-hour spent talking on cell phones.

Titled "If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online," a recent story in The New York Times shocked the nation with the reality of how children are spending their time.

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According to the national study released this January by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the daily average has increased from about six hours a day since the study was last conducted in 2005.

However, the new figure does not include multitasking. Add up the individual times spent on cell phones, TV’s, computers, etc., and the total may be closer to 11 hours.

Some call it the electronic umbilici, others are referring to this culture shift as being "plugged up." Either way, the presence of electronic media is more evident in people’s lives than ever before. In many cases this has been beneficial to society. But the balance is becoming lost and many believe it’s playing a critical role in the health and development of children.

Since 2006, C&NN has provided the "critical link between researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being." It has also inspired No Child Left Inside initiatives in 27 states.

The NOEC, although just recently recognized by C&NN, is no rookie when it comes to children and nature. Tom Cammermeyer, NOEC’s founder, first brought nature programs to the youth of Park City in 1980.

Now running daily programs from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., NOEC works with more than 1,000 kids a year through a program instituted in the public schools of Summit County, "Helping children find balance in life through nature."

NOEC works with teachers and school counselors, allowing students the opportunity for educational experiences outside the classroom. Although NOEC promotes physical activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, etc., the ultimate goal is to help kids realize their self worth and respect others and all of nature.

"Nature puts us all on equal terms," says Cammermeyer. At NOEC, kids are taught that all of life’s experiences are to be educational and that at times we need to relax and enjoy the journey.

For more information about NOEC’s programs and how to get involved, please visit their website at or call (435) 649-5322. To learn more about the Children and Nature movement, visit C&NN at