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“Don’t bury your head in the sand”

Last month I went on a vacation to one of the Hawaiian Islands. Being there reminded me of how we should try to use more of our free time to get out in nature – even when we’re on holidays – because nature is way more exciting than any kind of technology, amusement ride or hotel room. I snorkeled with fish of every size and colour, I ziplined through the Hawaiian rainforests where sugar plantations used to cover the fields and I watched monk seals sleep on the beaches for hours and hours and hours. Did you know there are only about 1,100 monk seals left – in the world!

We can protect our own local nature but we can also help protect other people’s “backyards” and neighbourhoods when we visit other places and enjoy their plant life and animals. We are truly a global village and we need to help each other. Any time we support nature, even if it’s nature somewhere else in the world, we are helping to protect nature for everyone. We don’t need to travel hundreds of miles to enjoy nature or spend a bunch of money. You can explore your own backyard, neighbourhood or park.

We shouldn’t have to go on vacation to give up our electronics for awhile. No cellphones, no texts, no emails, no computers and no TV (okay maybe just a little because I’m no allowed to watch TV except on weekends). We can dig in the sand, birdwatch, hike, identify animals and plants we see in front of us with the ones in our guide books and learn about the threats to nature at home and beyond. One of the things technology is good for is spreading the word about things we need to save and protect. It can educate us. Technology is part of our world now whether we like it or not so let’s find ways to use it to help nature. I remember going on a bird walk with a naturalist who brought along his ipod with different bird calls on it. He would play the birds’ songs and we’d have to identify them while we walked – how cool is that?! What a great way to use technology and enjoy nature at the same time!

So maybe my Dad had a video camera strapped to his helmet when we zipped through the trees but it didn’t distract us from the experience of ziplining and enjoying the jungle below. The video camera preserved it and will always remind us not just of a forest so different from our own at home but of a time we bonded as a family, facing our fears, laughing, screaming with excitement and sharing time, outdoors and getting educated about nature a world away from us.

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