Stargazing in the night sky, hiking in an ancient forest, even just feeling the breeze on a warm day — these simple things help kids find peace of mind, wonder, and a greater connection to the world. Camp is one of the best places (and in some cases, the only place) for kids to be nurtured by nature!
Time spent in nature — away from a screen — benefits kids in so many ways:
- Mental: Studies have shown that time spent in nature improves cognitive functioning.
- Physical: Playing outdoors gets kids off the couch and moving, helping them reach (and often exceed!) their recommended 60 minutes of activity time per day.
- Emotional: Studies have shown that nature reduces stress, and it allows for opportunities of self-discovery.
(Read more about these benefits and others in “Nature, Childhood, Health and Life Pathways” by Jules Pretty, et al. — a 2009 report from University of Essex.)
Nature is also a great way to “come up for air” in our technology-saturated world. In a recent blog, bestselling author Richard Louv relates that while some aspects of technology can be fun and beneficial, recent studies show there are serious cognitive and emotional detriments to a world without nature!
There's no escaping some "screen time" in kids' lives, but here's the good news: Researchers have found that when children are exposed to free play in nature at a young age, they are likely to make a lifelong connection with the outdoors. Kids might think they are just having fun at the waterfront, under the trees, or on the hill — but they are really forming a bond with nature that will offer renewal and life skills for the rest of their lives!
Photo courtesy of Trailside Discovery Camp in Anchorage, Alaska.