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Why spending time in the outdoors is important for your family

Updated on July 24, 2013

Outdoor recreation not a priority for young people

According to a study conducted by the Outdoor Foundation, participation by young people in outdoor activities is dropping off dramatically. Christine Fanning, Executive Director said “Kids are spending eight hours a day with media. Those same studies show young people reporting four minutes a day for spending time outdoors...The top reason they don’t get outdoors is that they’re not interested.”

One of the services provided by Explore the Outdoors has been a series of field trips aimed at regenerating that lost interest in the outdoors. Our experience has shown that when kids get away from their technological toys and spend time in the outdoors their eyes light up and their excitement becomes obvious. The problem is not that they are not interested, but that they have forgotten just how fun nature can be.

Why is Nature Apathy dangerous?

Nature apathy is dangerous on several levels. Studies have shown that outdoor activity reduces obesity and depression. “It’s been shown that young people who have outdoor experiences during the school year actually do better academically,” said Fanning.

Research shows that children who play outdoors have longer attention spans, more creativity, are more self confident, perform better on standardized tests, get better grades, have better language skills, interact better with others, have more self discipline, have better cognitive development, have better imaginations and creative expression.

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Outdoor activity teaches a sense of ownership and stewardship

It doesn't really matter if you believe in global warming or not. What is important is that you personally do what you can do to preserve the natural environment. Before kids will buy into that attitude, they need to care about nature. Spending time with them in the outdoors can make them feel like they are a part of nature and help them feel a desire to do their part in taking care of the world in which they live.

As adults, we need to do our part to teach good environmental stewardship practices. We also need to remember that before anyone will practice good stewardship, they need to care. The best way to develop a love of nature is to spend time outside.

Before people choose to enjoy nature they must first have an interest in nature. Interpretive naturalist Sharon Dequer said “Nature really can’t be taught; it can only be discovered. And we adults cannot share in discovery until we reawaken our ability to see the world through childlike eyes.”

Recreation is the refreshment of strength and spirits. It should be fun, as well as re-create us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Outdoor activities can build a spiritual connection to the earth

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth...And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”

Too many people have lost sight of the truth contained in that simple statement. The earth and all its intricate natural relationships are very good.

A spiritual connection to the earth can teach kids that they are part of a bigger picture. They will learn to take pride and feel ownership in their environment. They will gain a desire to take care of their environment.

Former radio commentator Paul Harvey referred to people who have lost touch with nature as being "under wondered." We believe that children and adults of all ages, backgrounds and geographic locations have a need and a right to experience the wonders of our natural world.

Take The Under Wondered Quiz

Take the quiz below to see if you need to spend more time in the great outdoors. If you score 20 or more points you are probably doing pretty well. A score of zero or less would indicate you are indeed under wondered.

You can start making your life wonder full any time. There is an old chinese proverb that says "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today."

Make today the day you take the steps to reawaken your ability to see the world through childlike eyes.

Are You Under Wondered?


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