Why Is Dinosaurland So Healing?

Dinosaurland at Whitepost, VA

By Marianne Clyde

This feels like my 474th trip to Dinosaurland. Sometimes I’d rather feel more creative about field trips when I am with my grandchildren; however, there are generally 2 main places that we go: Dinosaurland and the Luray Zoo.

They are familiar. They build the confidence of my grandchildren because they know the places. The people at these locations know my grandkids, and the grandkids know them. Each place offers interaction with the displays and the opportunity to get in touch with nature and other beings: petting zoo at Luray and beautiful outdoor settings and sculptures of prehistoric creatures at Dinosaurland.

The reasons, though, that I find Dinosaurland so healing are these:

I watch my 4-year-old grandson be completely excited about the whole experience. Once inside the park, he is completely immersed. I watch him run from exhibit to exhibit as if he is visiting friends he hasn’t seen in a while. He is moved with compassion when he sees the “epic battles” in which one dinosaur is bloodied by another, or two triceratops parents are protecting their offspring against a predator.

He KNOWS these dinosaurs and loves them. He is intrigued by their names. He is drawn to their trauma and empathizes with their anguish. He runs from one to the other like he is a doctor in a critical care unit.

This is what I witness every time:






Genuine concern





I stand back and appreciate every moment as I watch these things in action, in the purest form. My grandson, at 4, is not trying to impress anyone. He is genuinely in love with life and other creatures and never gets bored because he’s seen all this before.

Every day is a new experience.

I want to be him when I grow up.

Action Step: Today, embrace the experience you are in through the eyes of a child. See everything as if new. Feel compassion and connection, appreciation and joy. Put yourself in the shoes of others and be curious. OR simply take your grandchild on an outing and watch and appreciate the purity and authenticity of a child.

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