Counting to 20 out loud as the rest of the kids sprint behind doors and hide behind garden walls.
Tugging a parents hand and pleading for ice cream as the sound of the ice cream van grows closer.
Using chalk to draw the boxes and playing hopscotch every single day of the summer.
Anyone who is 20 or 30 years old will have vivid memories such as these which shaped them to be the people they are today. People who didn’t need the gadget to play games, people who only knew of riding bikes on muddy roads and not on iPad screens. People whose only source of entertainment was other kids who lived down the street.
Do the kids of today even know what it’s like to use their imagination and create a tent in the garden using bed covers? Have they ever experienced the bliss of lying on the green grass after a family picnic at the park or wasted evening after evening on the roof until they finally learned to fly a kite?
The instant gratification that has filled our world has a detrimental effect on today’s children. They don’t know what to do after 5 minutes in the garden and they seem to think that a device is the only outlet for creativity. Playgrounds have been replaced by computer screens or iPads and clash of clans is preferred over outdoor games. More children these days can identify a Dalek than an owl. Is the brightness of a computer screen that illuminates a child’s face all day the sort of bright future we envisioned?
When a child pushes the swing herself/himself, she gets a first-hand experience of cause and effect, and of understanding spatial learning such as up and down and back and forth. Exposure to green spaces can help lengthen the attention span of young kids. It isn’t just about running around and being active, but it’s also about learning behavioral and social skills and adjustment with peers because not everyone gets to go on the slide first. Going outside to play helps to develop muscle strength and coordination and gain self-confidence. It also encourages learning and problem-solving skills, which can help children perform better in the classroom. Children learn self-advocacy and resiliency which later helps them nurture better relationships and become leaders.
No app, digital game or youtube video can replace the benefits of going outside, making friends and engaging in outdoor games that are physically and mentally stimulating. Out of school activities enhance student development in terms of cognitive, affective and social outcomes. Children should set their own challenges, assess their own risks, take responsibility by having their own adventures and learning from them. Let nature be their teacher. It’s like God wrote a giant love letter and then sprinkled bits of it everywhere. Children should grow in the lap of this wonderful creation of God instead of on laptops.
A study by the University of Essex found just five minutes “green exercise” can produce rapid improvements in mental and physical well-being and self-esteem, with the greatest benefits experienced by the young. Long-term behavioral changes are very much necessary for them to lead a happier and healthier life. Ask anyone over 40 to recount their most treasured memories of childhood play, and few will be indoors. Just 21% of today’s kids regularly play outside, compared with 71% of their parents. That’s why it’s so important we help them build a treasure trove of fun-filled outdoor memories, just like we had.
The benefits of playing outdoor games are immense. They promote well-being and wholesome physical development. Other benefits include sharper thinking and creativity, better immune system and improved short-term memory. Outdoor play allows children’s bodies to produce vitamin D from the best natural source, sunlight. When a child spends time away from a television or computer screen and instead spends time outdoors, he or she is less likely to develop myopia and hence have a better vision. Children who regularly play outdoors have been shown to be happier, healthier, more confident and less anxious. Being outdoors in nature also gives your children a sense of wonder. It’s that sense of wonder that had led us to create the advanced lifestyles that we lead today. Now it’s our turn to make sure that children understand the importance of finding themselves in the wilderness!
Lead the children of today to make real connections instead of over social media. Children need to be encouraged to search for their friends by playing hide and seek instead of searching for strong Wi-Fi signals. Expose them to the beauty of the crystal clear rivers and the red colour spread across the sky during the sunset. Present them with the gift of the serenity by camping under the starry night sky. Teach them how to capture the beauties and bounties of nature with their eyes and not with a click. The invigorating essence of nature will always beat a video game for life enhancement and long-lasting memories.
So, give your children a ‘Green bucket list’ like climbing a hill, visiting a farm, going trekking, having a snail race and all sorts of outdoor activities which you as a kid loved to do.
We at Planned the Unplanned believe in the power that a journey into the outdoors holds in shaping the lives of adults as well as the lives of little children. Each one of us are equally responsible for making sure that today’s young people lead fruitful lives. We strive to play a part in shaping children who are “green” with the knowledge of nature and all its magical experiences by offering an exciting summer camp trek. Contact us for more details on how you can begin the journey of exploring the wild outdoors with your child!