In the hustle of urban and suburban life, we can become very disconnected from the natural environment. Research says that nature is not just good for the soul, it’s important for the mind as well.
Here are just a few reasons to dust off the camping gear, pack up the car, and head into the wilderness for a few days with the kids.
Being outdoors changes the brain
Time outside camping gives us a boost of natural Vitamin D from sunlight. It also maximizes learning potential. In a 2012 study called “Creativity in the Wild”, researchers found that creativity and problem-solving increased in over half of the participants after just four days immersed in nature. Other studies have also found that spending time outdoors stimulates learning ability and improves psychological health.
Quality screen-free time
Camping with kids maximizes family time and reduces screen time. With no tempting gadgets or electronics nearby, there is expansive time for kids to engage in creative, imaginative play. Unplugging from the digital world and from the scheduled life at home encourages rest, relaxation, fun and learning.
A natural educator
Camping, by nature, allows families and kids to live closer to the land. This is an amazing opportunity for kids to encounter the basic stuff of life and science: dirt, insects, animals, the stars…
The opportunities for discovery are endless. Kids will love identifying bugs, studying animal tracks, gathering flowers and plants, and learning about the Milky Way by looking up at the night sky. Time spent outdoors also helps kids develop a sense of respect for nature and a keener interest in taking care of it. Just beware of poison ivy.
Gaining Crucial Life Skills
Camping offers the opportunity to teach kids basic survival skills in a fun and exciting way–like starting and putting out fires, setting up a tent, and helping make food outdoors. In trying out and mastering these new activities, children gain a boost of confidence while learning the importance of risk, responsibility and safe boundaries.
Ideas to expand the camping experience
While camping on its own is adventure enough, here are a few activities to enhance any outdoor experience:
- Geocaching (https://www.geocaching.com/play): In a nutshell, it’s an outdoor, global treasure hunt. People have hidden ‘geocaches’ (small boxes, containers, etc.) in locations all over the world and have registered their GPS coordinates. Participants use a GPS-enabled device–an iOS or Android phone will do–to navigate their way to the hidden geocache. Numerous geocaching apps are available with user-friendly maps to explore what treasures might be hidden nearby. Sadly, no pirates will be found near the hidden treasure.
- Scavenger hunts: Send kids out on a quest to find a list of items around camp. Feathers, pinecones, rocks, beetles, leaves, shells and sticks are just a few examples. The list can be as long or as short as you want it to be and children will love the thrill of the hunt.
Whether you take a camper or a tent into the wilderness doesn’t matter. What matters is that kids will have fun and learn a lot at the same time.
Drop us a line about what you do when you go camping at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learning is Where We Play: