Nature First combines the Scandinavian approach to creating a relationship with nature (known as friluftsliv) with efforts by Canadian and international educators to adapt this wisdom and apply it to everyday life experiences in the open air. The word friluftsliv literally refers to "free-air life" or outdoor life. A word saturated with values, the concept can permeate deeply and playfully into ones cultural being and personal psyche, thus influencing the way one perceives and interacts with nature on a daily basis.
For centuries, the North American approach has been one of domination and bringing nature under control, in many cases abusing our natural environment in the process. The friluftsliv way of being on "talking terms with nature," developing an "insider’s" relationship with nature, offers the rich potential of allowing us as cohabiters on the Earth to recreate, rejuvenate and restore the balance among all living things.
Nature First is the first English-language anthology to bring together the perspectives and experiences of North American, Norwegian, Swedish and other international outdoor writers, all friluftsliv thinkers and doers. Here, the thirty contributors’ use of history, sociology, psychology, philosophy and outdoor education writings blend to provide an understanding of how friluftsliv applies to everyday life.
The book presents an alternative to much of the personal growth/adventure-based literature that tends to dominate our current approach to the outdoor activity. Folklore, heritage, adventure travel, crafts, place-based education and the daily outings of families all have a role to play in promoting an understanding of both the ordinary and the mystical importance of this Nordic tradition. Dedicated to parents, travel guides, educators and generally to participants in the outdoors, Nature First provides a compellingly fresh approach to life in the out-of-doors.
Bob Henderson of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and Nils Vikander of North Troendelag University College in Levanger, Norway, are the co-editors. Both are practitioner-based outdoor educators.
Bob Henderson teaches Outdoor Education at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. Starting as a camper and canoe tripping staff member at Camp Ahmek in Algonquin Park, he has developed a lifelong interest in Canadian travel heritage and travel guiding. Beginning in 1994, he continues to write a regular heritage travel feature for Kanawa Magazine. In 1995 Bob completed his Ph.D. concerning approaches to travel guiding from the University of Alberta. He takes pride in baking a golden brown bannock and leading a spirited campfire singsong.
Bob is the author of Every Trail Has a Story: Heritage Travel in Canada, published by Natural Heritage Books in 2005, and co-editor of the forthcoming Nature First: Outdoor Life the Friluftsliv Way, which will be released in June 2007.
Nils Vikander has taught friluftsliv since 1991 at North Troendelag University College in Levanger, Norway. Starting his all-weather explorations of the outdoors as a child in Sweden, he followed his family to Canada where he became an academic roamer from east to west, interspersed with years of work/play in cross-country skiing. The latter took him yet further afield-to the US Midwest and Montana, and to the farthest reaches of the Canadian Arctic. In the late 1980s his curiosity took him back to Scandinavia, this time to Norway, where his teaching and outdoor immersion brought him many deep nature experiences, taking advantage from time to time of the nearness to Sweden and Finland. From 2003 to 2005 he returned to Canada as a visiting scholar at Brock University and found deeply intriguing comparative teaching experiences in the outdoors. Nils delves deeply into the philosophy of the nature experience. His greatest passion is to search familiar or unknown vistas with paddle or ski, simply, intimately and tracelessly.
"I found Nature First to be a breath of 'free air' as a practical resource that brings together a multiplicity of scholars and practitioners under one sky, and as an inspiration to continue to pursue the 'open-air life' the Friluftsliv way both professionally and personally."