February 10, 2008

From Bonnie Swain:

Re: Communing with nature less and less (Feb. 4): occurred to me that there may be a not so obvious reason that people are not taking part in outdoor activities as much. It is at least worthy of consideration.

After 23 years of marriage, my divorce occurred right in the time frame that your figures of decline started. I am still single. From 1984 to 1988 I was the leader of an area-wide single again organization in Houston, for members of churches of Christ. We had a fairly consistent age range from about the mid thirties to about fifty-five.

I believe I gained a good understanding of how life is for these singles, and I can tell you that the outdoor activities we did participate in together usually took place at a local, or close-by park. Most of us lived in apartments. In all of that time there was only one of the guys that had a boat. I bought a tent and went camping with a friend once, and it was never used again.

Now, I’m back in California (over 7 years now) and I have been camping once with my son and his family, up at Shaver Lake. I am only an hour away from great outdoor areas and just a little bit further (maybe 1 1/2 to 2 hrs) from Yosemite, yet I have only been once to a retreat in the area (and much of that was held indoors).

So, I said all of that to draw your attention to the role that divorce has had in the decline you mentioned. Single people (especially women) just do not take off and go to places like that unless it is something that is already a very established part of their life and they are quite physically fit. It is hard to find people with common interests and a schedule and finances that allow for this kind of venture. Numerous other variables enter into this, but maybe there is enough information here to start you on a whole new study!

Bonnie Swain
Fresno, CA


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