What can we do to help our teens become the sustainable innovators and guides that the planet needs? More so than ever before, young people need positive opportunities to escape and explore, to move from talking and watching to doing.
For the past eighteen years we’ve run the Crossing Land Education Trust, where we have camps for young people. We create opportunities for young people to learn and become inspired, for example through teamwork, environmental restoration and monitoring, sustainable design, tool use, outdoor activities and organic gardening. We believe that teens need to be given the following experiences, to: contribute with purpose; improvise and make mistakes; and explore natural places. Well-designed school camps, with excellent leaders, are great for this; but as parents and guides to teens, we can create such opportunities in a variety of ways.
When you think back to yourself as a teen, and the people you looked up to, there was probably at least one cool uncle or aunty, an older brother, sister or cousin, a teacher or camp leader who was influential. Whether by accident or design, they were the ones who supported you to launch off on some early adventure. Pushing the boundaries of activity and adventure was okay by your parents, as long as you had that acceptable guide nearby. It’s good to surround teens with positive and inspiring role models they can relate to.