Nature is where we go to become who we are meant to be.
Drawing upon the power of nature, SheJumps is helping to build the next generation of leaders, helpers, healers, and educators. We need strong girls and women now more than ever, and nature will play a vital role in their journey. SheJumps ensures that all girls and women have access to the educational, growth, and transformational opportunities available in nature.
We go to nature for many reasons. For some, it is an escape. There is no internet, no deadlines. No mother-in-laws, no mirrors. For others, a place to feel humbled and inspired. It is a space for sitting and reflecting, a place to wonder and fill our minds with awe. For many of us, nature offers a place to feel challenged and empowered–digging deep into our abilities, bumping up against our insecurities.
I know this. You probably know it too. I know it because I’ve felt it. I’ve been called by it, wooed by its siren song, reminded of its power each and every time I have felt trapped by my concrete confines, anchored to my inbox, stuck in the routine I created out of necessity. It’s the reason I joined the board of directors for SheJumps. It’s why our programs fill up and why one of the participants in the Junior Patrol Day we led last year told me that it was, “the best day of her life.”
Nature is a wonderful classroom. Below the boat lies a world filled with ecology lessons. On ridge lines, we bear witness to the wonders of evolutionary biology in the flora and fauna. Calculating miles on the trail: math. Skiing, climbing: physics.
I did my research for my doctorate in clinical psychology on the power rock climbing had on a woman’s felt sense of hope and courage. I examined women’s reported feelings of hope and courage before they participated in a one day climbing course and after. Though the number of participants was small, the evidence was mighty, and entirely unsurprising. I have long known that the psychological skills I use to figure out how to get up a cliff face are similar to those I use to master problems encountered in my job, with my money, and in my intimate relationships. Hope, one of the experiences compromised when things in our life go awry, is tied to our sense that we can impact change in our lives. Courage, one of the mental components necessary to overcome obstacles, improves when we accomplish that which once seemed impossible.
What my research showed is that not only is nature an excellent teacher, she is also a pretty terrific therapist. She holds space so that we might become just slightly better versions of ourselves.
And from that brightness, something else special often emerges. When we stand on a summit and see the grandeur laid out before us, or sit on a beach with nothing but waves and water, as far as the eye can see, we are so often filled with awe. Sometimes, this awe comes in the form of amazement with our own possibility. Awe is perhaps one of the most fascinating of all of the human experiences. It is an emotion, with evolutionary origins, that is not only a delight to feel but is a boon for our communities and nature herself. Nature-induced awe has been shown to make people more compassionate and generous. In short, awe moves us to think beyond ourselves. It inspires us toward the greater good - whether in the form of conservation and preservation of wild spaces, community-oriented engagement, or the simple act of helping our friend make it across the creek without getting their shoes wet.
Would it be silly then, for me to say, in times like these, I believe time spent in nature truly is the answer?
I can think of no better friend these days than nature herself. In a time when our normal routine has been upended, courage is requisite. We must now solve problems we have never before faced. Every one of us is perched atop a proverbial line, prompted to drop in, scared to fall. Hope is an elusive beast in a time when violence continues to plague Black and Brown people and vaccines remain a distant wish on the horizon. We may be filled with awe but it is usually the variety that causes us to shake our heads in shame, not grasp for our breath in wonder.
It is no surprise, then, that trailheads have become more popular and parents have sought academic refuge, turning off zoom in favor of the OG classroom. Nature, which has become less accessible to so many during this time of great pause, has become - somehow - even more essential to us all. See SheJumps Micro Ventures to get started.
I can't think of another time while on Earth when nature, as teacher, as healer, as therapist, as community builder, has been more essential. And no other time in my lifetime when access to, and the knowledge and skills needed to enjoy, nature has been more fundamental to the survival and growth of our communities, our people.
And, while I know that the enjoyment of nature’s gifts should be available to everyone, we know that they are less likely to be enjoyed by girls and women, particularly those from Black and Brown communities. This is why I am asking you to join me in giving to SheJumps as a monthly contributor. I can assure you that the money that you give to SheJumps will help foster hope, courage, and awe in our future generation of leaders at a time when we need it most.
Will you consider making a $10 monthly recurring donation to SheJumps so we can sustain our organization through 2021? Our goal is to get 100 donors this month! Will you be one?
If you set up a monthly donation of $10 or more in September, you’re entered to win some amazing prizes. Even better? We’ll send you a gift from EcoLips just for setting up your donation!
Join us. Spread the word. Make a donation. It ALL makes a difference when we jump together.