If you live in a city or a suburb, chances are you don’t see many stars, even on a clear night. No matter where you live, you almost certainly see fewer stars now than you would have 25 or 50 years ago. What do we lose when we lose the night? Filmmaker Ian Cheney, co-creator…

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“Pollution, pollution,” Virgil warbles in tandem with Tom Lehrer, the musical parodist from the 1960s, coming into our kitchen on YouTube. I remember the satirical song from my own childhood and sing along: “Wear a gas mask and a veil. / Then you can breathe, long as you don’t inhale.” I’m somewhat surprised that Virgil…

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Here in central New Hampshire, as we step into official spring, the forecast calls for a string of 70-degree days and nights above freezing. Buds are opening up on the sugar maple trees, and the sap has stopped running. It’s time to pull our taps. The snow that held on through this nearly snowless winter…

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I recently put together a list of 10 kid-friendly hikes on the Appalachian Trail (AT), plus 3 additional AT hikes that start from AMC huts or lodges in the White Mountains. But there are many other family-friendly options on the trail, which covers nearly 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine. Former AMC Outdoors Senior Editor…

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This week is winter break for our children, as it is for many other schoolchildren around the Northeast. The winter we’re having here calls to mind a line from New Hampshire poet and essayist Donald Hall: “Sometimes the January thaw comes in February, sometimes it never arrives at all, and on the rarest occasions it…

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Do you live in a good “room to roam” community? Do you wish you did? What do we need in our neighborhoods, our towns, and our cities so that children are able to roam freely and safely? Eric Stones and I considered these questions in our conversation last week (recounted in “‘Free-Range Kids’ part 2:…

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In the nearly three years that I’ve written the “Great Kids, Great Outdoors” blog, I’ve read many studies relevant to children and families in the outdoors. Some have changed the way I think. A smaller number have changed the way I parent. One in that latter category wasn’t even a report. It was a map…

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If you want a sure-fire indicator of the divide between generations, ask people how far from home they could walk at age 8 without an accompanying parent. The British organization Natural England gave a striking example of that generational divide in a 2007 report by researcher William Bird. In 1926, George Thomas was 8 years…

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When I was a little kid, getting dressed for a winter’s day outdoors started with putting on a union suit. My father bought us full-body long underwear, complete with buttoned “trap doors,” from an Army-Navy surplus store. The suits were red, made of wool, and — at least on my skin — terribly scratchy. “If…

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Last winter, for a post here on teaching cross-country skiing, I interviewed a coach in our area Bill Koch League (BKL), an after-school and weekend Nordic program for more than 400 local kids. The program impressed me, and it seemed like fun. Virgil thought so, too, especially after hearing me describe the skills games the…

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