Bringing a Nature-centric Vacation Back to the Office

As I strolled back into the office after a week of completely unplugged vacation-hood, I couldn’t help but notice that The Go-Go’s timeless classic Vacation was playing overhead. Ahhhhh. Nothing like a little Belinda Carlisle to bring me back to reality.

The transition into and out of a vacation can be tough. For me, it’s always been more difficult on the front-end, and it took me a few days last week to get into my vacation zone. My wife, daughter and I were lucky enough to spend five amazing nights on Star Island, which lies neatly in Minnesota’s Cass Lake. The majority of the island is in Chippewa National Forest, which means the 980 acre island is rigidly managed and remains a nature-centric place with no vehicles, many historic cabins, and wildlife galore.

I couldn’t have asked for a better place to unwind and re-energize. We’ve always preferred vacations where we are immersed in nature and Star Island was no different. Awaking to the sound of a loon call is far superior to the iPhone vibration I’m used to. My morning cup of coffee was better while strolling with the little one along the trails outside the cabin. And I never felt more relaxed than when I was quietly swimming alone in Cass Lake while turtles climbed along the shore and bald eagles flew overhead. Jealous? You should be. It was great!

LL "hiking" amidst the white pines on Star Island.

While I always knew that nature had a restorative power, I’m learning more about the science behind it. Last week I started Richard Louv’s latest book, The Nature Principle. Louv is author of the national bestseller Last Child in the Woods and has been a leader in helping to define and draw awareness to “nature deficit disorder.” In a nutshell, Louv draws strong, direct connections between access to nature and human health (physical, mental and spiritual).

Although I only managed to get about halfway through the book (I preferred to sit back and enjoy nature rather than reading about how I should be doing just that), the connection between humans and nature is already abundantly clear. We are far better off when we have regular access to the natural world. That doesn’t mean we need to live in a national forest, though. It need not be that intense. But it does need to be present in some way.

Now that I’m back at my desk, I’m kicking around ideas to get our clients and Team Verdis out into nature more. Student performance improves with increased access to nature. Patients recover quicker. Employees are more productive. Yet it’s often easier said than done. For our part, we’re going to start having meetings somewhere other than in a conference room. Although that’s going to have to wait a few days until this nasty hot spell passes through Omaha.

Onward and upward.

Note: If you’re interested in learning more about Star Island, check out Star Island: A Minnesota Summer Community available in paperback. I haven’t read it yet but my curiosity about the island’s history and what will happen going forward has been piqued. It’s a very unique place to say the least.

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