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Rewilding Our Youth: Jamie’s Call to Get Kids Outdoors

When Jamie Verley’s four young children returned from a YMCA summer camp in Wisconsin each year, she fondly described them as “completely feral.”

“They were reconnected, they were reinvigorated,” she said. “They were excited to be outside.” The weeks her children spent at camp without phones, internet, or television were formative for them.

13 years ago, she and her young family decided to move to Florida following the housing crash and multiple vacation stints to visit in-laws. “Everything feels alive here,” said Jamie, who spends long weekends biking and hiking at Florida state parks. “There’s so much diversity.”

Today, she owns and operates a yoga studio in Fort Myers. At the aptly named Sacred Nature Studio, practices are rooted in being aligned with nature.

In lieu of a traditional retail shop within the studio, class attendees bring lightly used items, like yoga mats and tapestries, they no longer want or need in an effort to reduce consumer waste. She then sells them on a sliding scale and donates the proceeds.

“You get to pick your item, your price, and your charity,” explains Jamie, who offers the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN) via our Foundation as one of the charity choices.

The statewide program uses camps to educate and empower Florida’s youth through activities like wildlife viewing, fishing, and kayaking. Our Foundation provides scholarships for children to attend and provides funding for projects like archery programs, classroom renovation, and wheelchair-accessible cabins.

Jamie’s children are all adults now; the youngest is 22 and the oldest is 28. But their formative summers spent outdoors haven’t left them. Two of her children work in the environmental field, one as a nature educator at a museum in Arizona and another with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection helping to keep our waterways clean.

“Changing kids, getting kids back to nature,” said Jamie, “is changing the future.”

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