Many think of camping as merely free-form fun–a time to be outdoors and maybe develop both new friends and new skills. However, for the modern generation, camping can save their future…and it might just save their lives!
One of the ways that camping may save your child’s life is the active lifestyle that it promotes. As the Early Childhood News website reports, half of all American children are not receiving enough exercise in their daily lives. This has lead to medical issues like a general rise in obesity as well as young children being at additional risk for things like heart disease, arteriosclerosis, and hypertension. The good news is that playing outside significantly burns calories and can help to prevent all of these. Obviously, camping not only provides such outdoors exercises in and of itself, but it helps to foster a love of playing outdoors that will help to keep your child healthy for the rest of his life.
In addition to burning calories and warding off obesity, outdoors play promotes a number of other aspects related to bodily health. In fact, the National Wildlife Foundation notes that extra time outside gives children additional Vitamin D, which helps protect against diabetes, heart disease, and future bone-related issues. Being outside also improves vision and can even ward off nearsightedness. Overall, when it comes to bodily health, camping provides a long-term investment in a child’s health, providing both immediate and long-term benefits.
Interestingly, one of the main reasons why kids may be hesitant to go camping is the exact reason they need to. Today’s generation of children are used to being “plugged in” at all times–they are always simply a click away from a hit song, an amusing video, or a message from their best friend. Of course, if entertainment is always readily available, there’s a risk the child will grow up less creative and inventive. However, as The Huffington Post notes, camping effectively forces individuals to do take in the natural beauty and awe-inspiring sights of the outside world. The Post also cites recent research that this kind of outdoors awe can make individuals more inventive and happy–one of the reasons that artists and writers often feel the need to get away from it all to recharge their juices. Camp provides an opportunity to foster this creativity while providing other mental benefits, including connection with others–just as being glued to tablets and phones can have an isolating effect, being away from such electronic distractions and surrounded by new friends helps children learn (and sometimes re-learn) how to connect well with others.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where the future of our children is determined by school performance and standardized tests. In some cases, a single test score may be enough to keep your child away from his chosen university or badly-needed financial assistance. The good news? As the National Wildlife Federation notes, outdoors camping and other exposures to nature helps to minimize the symptoms of ADHD. More pointedly, schools with an environmental education program reported higher standardized test scores in a number of fields, from math to writing. And students who participated in those environmental programs and received increased exposure to the outdoors scored higher on critical thinking assessments-a vital component to collegiate success. Camping provides the opportunity to foster study skills in your child that will allow him to create whatever future he desires.
The final way that camping might just save your child’s life is the profound effect it has on mood. As the Huffington Post notes, reliance on phones and other digital distractions may be a sign of mental illness, one that being temporarily “unplugged” can help with. And for children who suffer from depressive symptoms, the Post reports that even a few minutes outdoors can reduce those symptoms. Better yet, time outdoors can help to get your child out of his head–the kind of obsessive and negative thoughts that can lead to mental health issues and even self-harm are reduced significantly by being outside. If even a few minutes can have such awesome effects, imagine how much a camping trip would benefit your child!