WILD WEDNESDAY: This week, Fain Atkins, our Group Program Coordinator writes about something close to the heart of our program: Kids Outdoors. Enjoy!
Kids need opportunities to explore experiment, expand, influence, change, discover, practice, push their limits, express their feelings and just be themselves. Here is a list of why an outdoor adventure may just be the best thing to achieve all of that and more!
3 Reasons an Outdoor Adventure is Pretty Great for Kids
1. Develops physical health
This first one is probably the most obvious but that doesn't make it any less important. Being physically active for a technologically hounded generation with vast amounts of screen time is so important. Kids must develop great motor and small motor skills and cardiovascular endurance. Backpacking is a great way to do this. In addition to physical activity, just the mere fact of being outside in sunlight and getting dirty actually aids in good physical health. For example, dirt is actually beneficial to kids. Don't believe me? Well, I just read a pretty convincing article on dirt that told me so.
2. Grows appreciation of the Outdoors
In this day and age, we are more aware than ever that taking care of the planet we live on is vitally important. Being a consumer just isn't going to cut it if we want the other non-human life we interact with on a daily basis to thrive in harmony for the future to come. Want your kids to get a grasp on this? Nothing is better than a first hand experience than living for a time outside, if even for just a day or two. At WAEL, we teach Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics which is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It is built on seven principles: Plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors.
Research shows that kids who engage in outdoor activities actually have longer attention spans, more frustration tolerance, and do better in school. Kids even do better on tests if allowed to play first. It's not just that it gets their wiggles out. It's all that oxygen to the brain. Not only that but it helps kids with specialized needs, from problems with focus to behavioral issues. Outdoor play is often used in therapy with much success. This article will back me up.
Although coming to WAEL is an awesome experience, outdoor adventures do not have to be a big production. If you're lucky enough to have your own yard, you have unlimited options, from kicking a ball around to camping out in a tent. Every city has public parks, and every family can find something to do outside that feels fun. If you still have doubts about why an outdoor adventure may not be good for the kids in your life (or “you” if you're blessed to still be a kid) then you should probably re-read this article or just research it for yourself by heading outside!