As avid campers and lovers of the great outdoors, as you most probably are if you’re reading this, then there’s little I need to say that you don’t already know about the positive effects of getting out and about in the fresh air and away from the day to day stresses of everyday life. However, with most children spending only half as much time playing outside as their parents did, for many children today, the primary focus or ‘pull’ in their lives tend to be to all things electronic, from mobile phones to iPad’s and games consoles etc.
As fun as these can be, they tend to be somewhat addictive and with growing evidence of some of the negative aspects associated with their overuse, it’ll be of no surprise that getting time away from them is vitally important for children’s balanced development and wellbeing.
In recent years there have been several studies undertaken to also understand the effects of children spending time enjoying the outdoors and in particular camping and it appears that the positive affects this can have are substantial.
One such study was undertaken by the Institute of Education at Plymouth University and the Camping and Caravanning Club, who collaborated to discover perceptions of the relationship between education and camping.
Parents and children around the UK were asked a series of questions which looked at the educational, psychological and social benefits of the camping experience to children of all ages, and parents whose children camped in the great outdoors at least once a year reported that they go on to do better at school, as well as being happier and healthier. It also showed that 98 percent of parents said camping makes their kids appreciate and connect with nature; 95 percent said their kids were happier when camping; and 93 percent felt that it provided useful skills for later life.
So why should you take your children camping and what benefits might they gain?Well for several of the team here at TURAS who have young families and often take our children adventuring with us the benefits are clearly visible from the instant smiling faces and watching them embrace the different environment and instant found freedom that they love. Indeed the very fact that most Friday evenings involve us being begged ‘Can we go camping this weekend?’ is proof enough, but thinking about it further there are some obvious tangible benefits such as:
– Learn new skills: from basic camping skills such as putting up a tent, camp cooking, knot tying to other associated skills such as fishing, map reading etc.
– Help develop their creativity: no more relying on technology for entertainment – children use their imagination to play games and entertain themselves.
– Increase fitness: Combine your camping trips with activities such as hill walking, climbing, kayaking etc it’s a great fun way to get those hearts beating a little faster.
– Build confidence: presents a great opportunity to let them realise they can live away from the usual creature comforts of a modern home and sleeping outside ‘in the dark’ with new sounds they might hear around them can help them overcome any fears they might associate with night time.
– Develop resilience: as well as positive experiences such as helping out to pitch the tent and set up camp etc. the challenges presented such as bad weather, not having access to modern days creature comforts and having to generally fend for themselves a bit help to make them more robust.
– Connect with nature: sleeping under the stars and being immersed in a new environment full of new sights, sounds and smells can help them gain a new love and respect for the beauty of the world around them and ensuring you employ the ‘leave no trace’ ethos helps reinforce that message of respecting the planet.
So what are you waiting for – whilst we’ve still got a few comfortable weather months ahead of us for camping at the back end of this summer if you haven’t already got your ‘little people’ involved there’s never been a better time. Get them helping you in the planning of your next big ‘camping adventure’ and get out there.
They’ll be sure to thank you for it, now and in years to come too, as you help develop the next generation of respectful outdoor explorers and that can never be a bad thing.