Collaboration with Cadets UK
Those who love the outdoors know the feeling of getting to grips with nature is non-comparable to anything that can be experienced inside. These revelations are nothing new however, In the 1970s a research team at the University of Michigan studied the effects of nature and its ability to help with memory and attention span. So, if being outdoors has such great benefits, and these benefits have been known for the over 40 years then why are children in the UK today spending less time outside than prison inmates?
Due to the dramatic increase of technology in recent years, it’s been discovered in a study that a shocking three quarters of today’s children are spending less than an hour in the open air each day. What’s more, it’s been noted that on top of these figures one fifth of children are not spending any time playing outdoors at all. The UN guidelines stipulate that inmates must spend at least one hour each day exercising outside, yet as we as a nation encourage activity in prisons, we are continuing to enclose our children. Active play for our children seems to a diminishing trend with one in nine children not visiting a park or a beach in over a year.
Studies undertaken by the National Trust have outlined that half of all children in previous generations used to regularly play outdoors, compared to just one in ten today. The reason parents gave for their children not experiencing the outdoors in the same manner past generations did is due to concerns over the safety of their children, including strangers, traffic and injury. These concerns coupled with the fact that today 65% of 8-11 year olds now own smart devices offering them instant engrossing entertainment has led to children with Vitamin D deficiency soaring by over 200% since 2010. Lizz Truss, the environmental secretary offers a great statement as she says “Our children should be climbing trees, not the walls.”
Camping is the Perfect Outdoor Adventure
One way to encourage children away from their screens and into the great outdoors is to take the time to go on a camping holiday with all the family. When faced with the glow of a screen each day, children are missing out on experiences that cannot be duplicated, such as den building, cooking over a campfire and staring up at the stars, with no smog or the glow of the city distorting the view. Of course, any outdoor activity is great for children, so why camping in particular? The University of Plymouth undertook a study in 2015 regarding camping and children’s wellbeing, and the results are astounding.
Education at Plymouth University and the Camping and Caravanning Club
In collaboration between these two institutions a nationwide campaign was launched to discover the effects of camping, education and wellbeing. The research was led by Sue Waite, Associate Professor at the Plymouth Institute of Education who states that “Interestingly, the parents surveyed believed camping supported the key curriculum subjects of Geography, History and Science. And actually, that stacks up because the most common camping activities were natural – such as rock pooling and nature walks – where children were getting to understand ecosystems and identify life forms, respecting nature and the environment.” The overall findings of the study showed that:
- 98%of parents said camping makes their children appreciate nature
- 95% said their children were happier when camping
- 93% felt that it provided useful skills for later life
- 20% said camping gives their children freedom, independence and confidence
- 68% felt camping helped their children to enjoy learning in the classroom, because of the educational experiences they gain whilst camping.
- 52% of parents felt cooking when camping had a positive effect on their children’s learning
With these resounding results and the worrying statistics shown in recent studies about the amount of time children are spending experiencing the outdoors, is it time you packed up and took your children on a camping trip? Parents of children who camp see the activity as both mentally and physically rewarding that encourages life skills that just can’t be replicated elsewhere. Encouraging children to camp is an ideal way to disengage then from the all-consuming screens that dominate modern society, and bring them back to the simple pleasures the outdoors can bring.