Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


First Advisor

Rebecca L. Powell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Eric Boschmann

Third Advisor

Helen Hazen

Fourth Advisor

Bryan Wee

Fifth Advisor

Tom Romero


Natural place, Photo-story maps, Sense of place, Urban children


In the United States, a common and ingrained perception is that humans are separate from nature. Over the last several decades, urbanization, the increasing presence of technology, and progressively busier schedules contribute to a growing concern over a disconnect between children and nature. In light of this potential disconnect, I explored how urban children experience a natural place outside of the city. In this study, I investigated the "sense of place" of 27 children living in Denver, Colorado; sixteen of these children had experienced a natural place at a summer camp outside of the city. The children created photo-story maps of the special places in their lives, which I incorporated into follow-up photo-elicitation interviews, and characterized their experience through a qualitative content analysis. I found that most children enjoyed outdoor activities at the summer camp, with new people, in the largely unfamiliar natural place; however, the short experience there was detached from how the children experienced their everyday fun activities, with family and friends, in their often familiar special places. My findings indicate that if urban children are to become more connected with nature, then experiences of natural places outside of the city need to connect to their everyday lives in the city. To connect such experiences, I suggest urban children would need more frequent exposure to nearby natural places, in the presence of family and friends.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Corey J. Martz


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

138 p.



Included in

Geography Commons