One of the books that has had a major impact on my life was written several years ago by John Ortberg (also one of my favorite authors), entitled “God Is Closer Than You Think.” There was a chapter in it devoted to what he refers to as a person’s ‘spiritual pathway.’ It’s the way that we most naturally connect to our Creator. He states that there are generally seven major spiritual pathways. We usually have at least one or two ways that are stronger than the rest in putting and keeping us in touch with God and staying close to Him as we walk through our daily life.

I have always been drawn to the outdoors and to nature which Ortberg refers to as the Creation pathway. I relish being outside in any type of weather (even Cleveland winters) as it seems to make me feel alive. I enjoy not only beautiful sunrises/sunsets but also a good thunderstorm; the wind blowing in my face or bending the boughs of trees; the intricacies of leaves, flowers, bugs, plants in a deep woods or forest, etc… It always makes me think of and thank my Creator; my Master; the One who I depend upon to get me through each day. It seems that no matter where I am, if I look up and see trees or a blue or cloudy sky, it can calm my spirit and help to reconnect me and keep me close to God.

When I was offered an opportunity to write a small grant proposal to a local foundation to expose children/teens in the child welfare system to what the outdoors can offer them, I was excited. Fortunately we were awarded some funds to do this which led to our current ‘Kids In Nature’ program. We brought on two special individuals with great experience in working with young people and who are attuned to the same ideals I have about the wonderful impact a nature or outdoor experience can have on kids. Carolyn Rames and Joshua Smith (pictured above) are those two folks and have done a great job of introducing the woods to some young people who normally don’t get out to the deep woods or forest and experience what it has to offer them.

Starre’s Acres is a 33-acre plot of land owned by Barb Starre who wants to see it explored by kids. Lots of time, hard work and loving attention has gone into developing her land to make it an enjoyable place to visit. It’s a peaceful, quiet environment that oozes with the sounds, smells and sites of everything wooded property offers to people young and old alike. A cozy and welcoming straw-bale cottage is the cornerstone of the day’s event and can keep everyone protected just in case the weather isn’t perfect. In this age of technology with smart phones and video gaming systems, her woods  is a much-appreciated breath of fresh air.

We plan on bringing at least 30 kids to her land this year. I can already tell you that those kids who have visited always ask about when they can return. I have visited there myself when I need to get away and the solitude I sometimes need is definitely felt there. It brings out the kid in you; the peaceful surroundings rub off on everyone there. You feel like a ‘Kid In Nature’; like those who are with you are ‘kin’…and that’s what we are looking for.

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