Echoing Maine Camp Experience Camps’ values and beliefs about the importance of kids unplugging and spending quality time outdoors, Kimberly the Campcierge™ caught up with Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix for a Q&A.
Why is it so important for kids to unplug?
Wordsworth once wrote, “The world is too much with us …” What was true then at the dawn of industrialization is even more true now, because we are all plugged in nearly in all the time. Research shows that when kids get a break of at least five days from their phones and devices, they become better at reading emotions in human faces. And they turn outward. We all need a break from selfies! There’s nothing like shared experiences to solidify friendships, and we know moving all their major muscle groups and engaging all their senses how kids learn best.
Does stepping away from our everyday lives and schedules into Nature help us reboot?
Yes! Camp gives kids the chance to take a break and connect with the outdoors for weeks at a time. They can grow in resilience, independence, imagination and physical strength, and start to think about who they are and their place in the world.
How can being in Nature make you healthier?
So many ways! According to research in Japan, the smell of pine needles (and Maine is the Pine Tree State!) strengthens your immune system. Being outside exposes you to more Vitamin D, which is important for your eyesight and for bone growth. The color green makes you feel invigorated, and the color blue is relaxing. Being outside also fosters friendships, spurs creativity, and helps regulate impulsive behavior.
How does being in Nature make us more creative?
Aside from allowing us the time and space to follow our curiosities, being outside allows us to give a break to our executive network and instead activate the sensory and kinetic parts of our brains associated with long-range thinking, empathy and creative problem-solving.
How does being in the outdoors help kids to feel better about themselves?
I love a recent study from anthropologist Viren Swami showing that time in Nature makes both men and women and feel better about their bodies. This is important, because in girls especially, low body image is a risk factor for low self-esteem and a host of other challenges. When kids use their bodies to have fun and master skills, they feel pride and empowerment.
Is there a benefit to swimming in Nature on a lake or pond vs. a pool?
Our brains seem to thrive in “blue space,” around oceans, lakes and rivers, which we subconsciously associate with life-giving food and survival. Especially when we know how to swim! Playing and swimming in lakes can provide a full-sensory experience, great for learning and producing feelings of vitality. Our human bodies and brains love it!
My kid is not the outdoorsy type? How can I get him out without stressing him?
You don’t have to be outdoorsy to get the benefits of Nature. Summer camps that are set in beautiful surroundings allow kids to enjoy the activities they love most while enjoying nature around them. And the more time kids spend outside, the more comfortable they become. By the end, they might not want to come back inside!
Are kids more stressed today than in the past? How can Nature help you to destress?
It’s hard to prove that kids today are more stressed. It’s probably always been hard to be a kid in a world designed for grownups! But camp is designed for kids. We know that being outside can lower anxiety, lower blood pressure, lower stress hormones like cortisol, and help us sleep better. Adults should go to camp too!
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.