Posted by: Kath Usitalo | June 9, 2010

Big Mother Declares No Child Left Inside…Or Else?

It was not the prettiest spring day but these parents had the idea---without government intervention----to get their kids outside to a Lake Michigan beach

“No Child Left Inside” is not the census declaration of a dyslexic right winger.

It’s an effort by–what else–the government to get kids out of the house and into the Great Outdoors. Parents are unable to figure this out for themselves; it takes Governor Jennifer Granholm to issue a proclamation declaring June 7-13 No Child Left Inside Week “as a first step to encourage Michigan’s children to be active in our great outdoors.”

The Michigan House actually passed Resolution No. 200 expressing concerns that “Youths are shunning the great outdoors in favor of sedentary activities such as video games, Internet surfing, and movies…”

Our elected officials proceeded to list the following 10 (count ’em, ten) activities “every child in Michigan should have the opportunity to experience.” They are:

Official State of Michigan House Resolution 200

– Visit a Great Lake
– Sit beneath a tree at least 100-years old
– Go fishing
– Plant a native flower, shrub, or tree
– Hike a trail
– Follow animal tracks in the snow
– Listen to a spring bird song or chorus of frogs
– Canoe, kayak or float a river
– Star gaze
– Toast a marshmallow on a campfire

It’s good to know that our state legislators have the imagination and initiative to dream up a list and adopt a resolution—an official, tax-dollar supported RESOLUTION— telling us what children SHOULD be doing.

That’s a lot easier than coming up with, oh, let’s say, a workable state budget.

I understand that, as a full time legislature, our guys and gals in Lansing have a lot more time to fill than do many of their peers across the land.

While I applaud their efforts to earn their salaries and keep their large staffs employed, I question some of the items on this list.

For example, why did they specify that all children should sit beneath a 100-year old tree? Don’t you have to chop down a tree and count its rings to know just how old it is? Will the kiddies be penalized  if the tree they choose to relax under is only 99 years old?

Will you be in violation of House Resolution 200 if you go looking for a chorus of frogs and find a turtle instead?

The resolution states that young ‘uns should toast marshmallows—but there’s no mention of eating them.

Sorry, kids, according to do-gooders in our government you consume too much sugar and many of you are obese. So toast away, but do not let that plump lump of goodness touch your lips!

Another thing: How do the well-meaning Governor and legislators define the “child” in No Child Left Inside?

Is it the tot who is glued to the set watching G rated movies, the teen too young to drive a motor vehicle, or the “child” up to age 26 covered by a parent’s medical insurance under Obamacare?

Perhaps everything will be explained at a Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) event, the 2nd Annual No Child Left Inside Coalition Summit.  The June 23 program (which, by the way, will be held indoors) promises to “Provide a forum for coalition members to discuss and support local and state actions to promote a healthy outdoor lifestyle.”

Register if you want to spend time with others whose goal it is to “Promote programs that endeavor to get kids outdoors.”

Or, you could just take a kid to a park on that Michigan summer day.

The Michigan DNRE has some great programs for enjoying the Great Outdoors, including:

First Time Campers Program provides gear on loan for those who want to test the camping scene before investing in equipment

Free Fishing Weekend is June 12-13; license fees are waived but you supply your own fishing gear

Michigan State Parks offer recreation in every corner of both peninsulas



  1. Oh my….you’ve said so much in this post I hardly know what to comment on!?!? Perhaps our state government could figure out a way to help schools and kids and teachers instead of cutting their money? Just a thought from a veteran teacher….

    I totally agree with all you’ve said, Kath!

  2. I have no way of knowing, but wonder how many of the politicians who collaborated on that list of 10 things every kid should do have actually done them with THEIR kids, or if they don’t have children, some neighbor kid?
    And how many people will be sitting in that conference in Dearborn when they could be doing the same?

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