This past weekend, my husband, family, and I participated in a great fundraising event called “Bark for Life.” Bark for Life is an annual event that raises money for the American Cancer Society. My older daughter volunteers with ACS and helps organize the event – her tribute to the many members of our family who have lived with cancer. We’ve participated in past years and have always had a good time. (How can you beat an event that includes four-legged friends as part of the fun?) This year’s event was a particular treat, though.
This year, the event was held at a nature area instead of its previous venue – a city park. As in past years, it included a fun run/walk; but this year the designated route took participants through a beautiful wooded area where red squirrels chattered, a group of deer had been spotted less than an hour earlier, and the scent of balsam was thick in the air. The weather was perfect: a blue sky, seventy degree day.
Countless research studies tell us what we all have experienced: time spent in nature is therapeutic. It has a positive, documented effect on our mental and physical well-being. Richard Louv tells us in his book, “Last Child in the Woods,” that children who play among the trees, on the uneven ground, and among the rocks of natural play areas display better balance and agility than their peers who play on traditional playgrounds. Adults who spend concerted time in natural settings feel less anxious, angry, and depressed.
As I walked through the woods with my family and the other participants last weekend, our dogs racing and barking up and down the trail, I had to smile. Participating in fundraisers makes us feel good. Getting out and experiencing nature makes us feel good. This year’s Bark for Life event was the perfect “win/win” situation.
We wrapped up the morning with lunch on an outdoor patio, the dogs sleeping at our feet. The bees buzzed around us. Umbrellas shaded us from the sun. What a great way to spend the morning.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Bark for Life!