By Sarah Felumb

Education Coordinator

The Wildlife Center of Missouri


From the cozy warmth of my office chair, gazing out onto our acreage at the Wildlife Center of Missouri, I can see the pond as it freezes and thaws, freezes and thaws.  I haven’t taken a walk around the pond trail in a few months.  After the first cold snap of November, my time in the out-of-doors has been more limited than my used to be lifestyle of winter in California.  There is talk in the eco-community of a “nature deficit disorder” condition beginning to affect children in modern societies who’ve become more consumed with their I-pods, than the audio experience of crickets chirping at night.  The winter itself can even make one feel rather deficient of nature: cold weather outside pushes us indoors where the comforts of media abound and distractions are plentiful.  Although the gray days of winter seem short, there is great joy to be discovered soon in the baby season of our native Missouri wildlife.

For just around the corner, and in fact, just in the corner of my yard, I’ve begun to see sprouts of life and spring rising again.  Four shoots of pale green iris poke anxiously from the matted, brown tendrils of last summer’s plants.  A trip to Walgreen’s yields an entranceway stocked with wire tomato plant hangers and calculated rows of vegetable seeds.  Collectively, in March, we are all ready for the end of winter—but it is not quite time yet.  The transition between winter and spring is one of the most graceful and sublime pursuits of nature.  The gentle push of cold into warmth, of hibernation into awakening, and the flush of color to every corner enlighten our spirits to get outside and enjoy ourselves.

At the Wildlife Center of Missouri, we recently became members of the Gateway Children’s Nature Connection, a community organization whose mission is to “help children on the inside, by taking them outside”.  And as adults, we could learn a thing or two about a child’s desire to play imaginatively in the outdoors.  Our summer camp this July invites children to the Wildlife Center to enjoy days of experiential-based outdoor learning and fun.  Activities span the subjects of Missouri wildlife, ecology, eco-arts, and aquatic life.  Opportunities for imagination will be unlimited, and with 17 acres of space to play, outdoor time will be too.  In fact, our summer camp may just be the perfect antidote to the “nature deficit disorder” you may be seeing in some of the children in your community.  Now if we only had summer camps for adults with the same condition.

For more information please call The Wildlife Center of Missouri at (636)394-1880.