As some of you know, for the past year the KMPL has been trying to organize a program to help orphans and other underprivileged children in Korea. The focus is to provide these children with opportunities to have nature experiences through an ecologically-based and scientifically-sound program. This will include taking the children on hikes (single & multi-day), camping trips (single night and multi-day), visits to natural history museums (Seodaemun has a great one), green zones (like Seoul Forest), climbing lessons, and other outdoor related activities. The point is to provide the children with the opportunities to get outside and learn about the environment and about the ecology of their country. These children otherwise have little to no chance to get outside under such free conditions to see nature close up and to get their hands dirty.
Recent social science studies have begun to indicate that lack of contact with nature and lack of unstructured play are related to the decrease in the physical and mental health of children in developed and developing nations (Louv, "Last Child in the Woods"; Turner, et al. the Property & Environment Research Centre; the No Child Left Inside initiative). Orphans are much more likely to not have the opportunities to go into green spaces and enjoy unstructured play. In Korea, the most recent government studies show that the physical and mental health of children has seriously decreased, and much of the blame is put on excessive stress to perform in school and lack of unstructured outdoor play in natural settings. I'm particularly interested in this issue, and if you're bored enough, you can read the transcript of a speech I gave regarding the issue: speech
The KMPL tried to get this project off the ground last year, but we were tragically no match for the pseudo-science that spread a generalized ignorance toward swine flu, and the orphanages, though enthusiastic about the project, declined and cancelled their involvement. Luckily, the media is no longer touting swing flu, and so our project is starting to roll again.
The KMPL has made a partnership with an eco-camp in the Gapyeong area. This camp will be the grounds where we'll take the children for weekend retreats. Hopefully, the first retreat will be underway by the end of next month. In the meantime, we need some volunteer help this upcoming weekend.
A group will go to the camp in Gapyeong on Saturday, do landscaping work, prepare compost toilets, and swing some hammers. We'll be at the work doing the day, and by the evening we'll settle down, wash up, get some BBQs blazing, crack out some grub, drown some beers, and enjoy the fruits of our labour through full bellies, drunkenness, and stellar conversation. There's plenty of space for us all to sleep - there are trailers on the grounds, but anyone can tent or bivouac, or just pass out by a BBQ.
The next day, some of us will head into the national forests nearby to work out the trails for future hikes with kids. Of course, people can just get up and head back home if they like. There's a river nearby, with lots of water sport if that's your thing. There's probably even some climbing nearby.
So, if anyone is interested in and can join us this weekend, please let me know. We could use the help, and so could the kids. Note, however, that no kids will be at the camp this weekend; we'll just be doing work in order to help prepare the camp for our future trips with the kids.
I hope you can join us.
Let me know here or e-mail the KMPL [email protected]
Thanks. Be well and tread lightly.