From Online to Outside: Why Outdoor Activities Matter for Youth Development
Getting kids to put away their screen and trade it for scenery can be a challenge in today’s media-focused world. Yet at this vital stage in their life, engaging their mind and body with the real world is hugely significant to their overall development.
Let’s talk about why:
Spending time in nature can have a positive impact on overall mental health for all people, but at a young age where our brain is rapidly developing, the impact is significant. At Camp Fire, all of our programs spend a notable amount of time outside. During our Before and After School Program, outdoor play time is on every day’s schedule, as long as the conditions are safe. At all of our Summer Camps, there is a huge priority to engage with and appreciate nature. We are able to first-hand watch youth destress and create a relationship with the earth, even if it’s as simple as noting the kind of weather to a staff member, or as complex as asking about climate change and how they can help. The time they spend outside makes a difference in them, and therefore, on us.
Connection is bound to happen, too.
Outdoor activities provide ample opportunity for youth to connect with others in meaningful ways. They get to to put into practice communication skills, teamwork, leadership skills, as well as build friendships and social networks in something as simple as building a snow reindeer or playing a game of Ga-Ga Ball!
And it’s not always easy.
Nature can provide its challenges, too. An experience like a hike on a field trip at Summer Adventure Camp or Camp Si-La-Meo, in a community that our Rural Alaska Program works with, or even on site of Camp K, can push youth to experience something new and engage them physically/mentally. This can result in resilience, self-confidence, and self-reliance as they navigate new challenges and overcome obstacles.
Encouraging young people to engage with the outdoors is something we will always support here at Camp Fire. Last year, we even heard first-hand what our youth loved about the earth and celebrated it’s beauty together! So on that note, we leave you with these finally words…