Censorship of Nature: Being a Kid in Hong Kong
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
I am a child of the city. As a kid, I used to spend my summers at Mensa camps in Europe, where we were out all day long. Later I grew into an instructor myself - starting as early as some 13 years old. One time, I created a mystery game for the younger kids, where we took them to the forest at night and split them into two groups. I run in between those groups with messages they send to each other, and I was terrified by the night scenery. I was not used to the scary trees in the darkness. What have I got myself into?!
Another memorable summer memory was during a sports camp, I could be maybe 16 years old. We all got a little glass ball and were supposed to roll it through a long course race. It was pouring rain and we were all covered in mud. Half of us never found the glass ball again.
When I came to Hong Kong I of course realized that nature is different here. All the animals and insects I have never seen before! But what struck me was how nature was dozed and censored to the kids.
Many children in Hong Kong cannot swim or ride a bike. They never climbed a tree. Or got so dirty that their mothers did not recognize them :)
It is a norm in Hong Kong, that everything is structured and organized. But that does not go very well with an outdoor play, which supposed to be NOT structured and organized. Outdoor camps make sure that children are clean and out of any discomfort that nature may impose on them. Adventure activities are safe first, which is not wrong, but they are often also adventurous last. Hong Kong is the place of skyscrapers being not too far from amazing countryside trails, but it is also a place where you can spot people with hi-tech outdoor equipment getting ready for their 5km hike.
With the size and population of Hong Kong, there are for sure places and organizations where children can get happy, dirty, and safe, all in one. But it is not easy for them, in this city, to experience that relief we may know from our childhood, when you finally shower off the mud from your hair, or when you take off your hiking shoes and sit on the sun, exhausted and content in the middle of nowhere.
Discovering Hong Kong Forest Adventures was like chicken soup for my soul. Letting children experience the uncensored nature with all its wetness, bites, abraided knees, and water in shoes not only make them happy but also empowered and confident!