With camp starting in just a few weeks, we wanted to focus on an idea that is seemingly so simple yet so profoundly important: BEING OUTSIDE.
The term “Nature-Deficit Disorder” was coined in 2005 by Richard Louv. While calling it a disorder may just be rhetorical, it’s clear that young people now seem to spend the majority of their time indoors, largely due to the advancements in technology. Kids may get a few minutes outside at school, but even that time is fading away and becomes non-existent as children grow older. The stimulation of a screen is becoming more and more appealing as well as isolating. Indoor activities become easier: no sunscreen needed, less prep, less time formulating and navigating relationships face-to-face.
Being outside has so many positive side effects and we love being able to experience so much nature and so much play at camp every year. Here are some great benefits of the being outside:
• Being outside builds confidence and cultivates creativity and imagination. Whether kids are in a structured or unstructured play environment, there are so many ways to interact with the natural world. It makes them think, build, make stories, act, create. Children get to learn and choose how to treat their surroundings, whether in a backyard, in a park, on a trail, at camp….etc.
• It teaches responsibility. A phone may die if you don’t charge it and kids learn quickly what they need to do to keep their tech running successfully. Living things also die when they aren’t taken cared for. Teaching a child how to take care of the living parts of their environment is an important part of connection to life around them. Kids who are more exposed to nature also often grow up to appreciate it more and work to help take care of it.
• It provides a different type of stimulation. A video game may seem more stimulating than playing outside, but being outside actually activates more senses. You can see, hear, touch, and smell the outdoors. Louv writes: “As the young spend less and less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow and this reduces the richness of human experience.”
• Kids move when they are outside. Sitting on the couch for hours at a time isn’t just a concern for the mind, it’s also a concern for the body. Being outside helps kids focus and it is also great natural exercise. Your child doesn’t have to join a sports team to enjoy the benefits of being active outside. It also helps with stress and fatigue because rather than using directed attention, which exhausts the brain, they are using effortless attention. Outdoor light also stimulates the pineal gland and this part of our brain is vital to keeping our immune system strong. It also makes us feel happier!
We can’t wait for another great summer at camp and love being able to be a place that fosters these great benefits of the outdoors!
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity