There is a growing body of evidence that links time spent outdoors by children with health benefits. Probably the best known work on the subject has been Richard Louv’s national bestseller – Last Child in the Woods – saving our children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Any person interested in this topic can do an internet search on “children and the outdoors” and will find dozens of articles about research that has been done in the past 15 years or so.
General research findings are that the average child aged 8-18 spends over 6 hours per day on electronic media. This often exceeds the total time they spend outdoors in a given week.
The short list of health benefits of being outside include: reduction of stress and anxiety, reduced chances of vision loss, boosts to the immune system, cognitive, and creative ability.
A few quotes from leading researchers on this topic:
“Nature is important to children’s development in every way – intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically” (Kellert, 2000)
“Contact with the natural world can significantly reduce symptoms of attention-deficit disorder in children” (Kuo & Taylor, 2004)
“Green plants and vistas reduced stress among highly stressed children” (Wells and Evans, 2003)
“Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development” (Kellert, 2005)
“Proximity to, views of, and daily exposure to natural settings increases children’s ability to focus and enhances cognitive abilities” (Wells, 2000)
A few observations from KAMO’s mentors:
“How many times have I taken a kid out in the setting of nature and watched that kid transform into a more content, smiling, calm person? You can even see it in their eyes. Not to mention how excited they can become before some kind of event like a hunting, camping, or fishing trip”.
“When I was young, I was never in the house”
“People tell me I’m nuts when they hear that I’m so wrapped in the outdoors that I even camp in the winter. I tell them – “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – no bugs, complete tranquility, very few people, I love it”.