Why Camping and Exploring the Outdoors is Good for Your Kids

camping

The American Camper Report says 40.1 million Americans went camping in 2013, equivalent to 14 percent of the population over the age of six. Most first-time campers went to enjoy nature, get away from the daily grind of home and work, and spend time with family and friends. Significantly, those exposed to camping before the age of 15 and especially between the ages of 6 and 12 were more likely to camp as adults, while after the age of 15 the odds of being introduced to camping dropped dramatically. If you have young kids, the sooner you introduce them to camping, the better chance you give them to enjoy the many benefits of exploring the great outdoors.

Relaxing

Have you ever noticed how you feel more relaxed when you’re around trees and plants? Researchers have found that forests and other natural green settings actually promote stress relief, according to the USDA Forest Service. Heart rate, muscle tension, stress hormone levels and blood pressure all drop in natural settings. This has a calming effect on the emotions, reducing depression, anger and aggression. Children display fewer ADHD symptoms when they play in natural environments. If your family and your kids need to relax, camping might be just what the doctor ordered. You’ll also be giving your kids a stress management skill they can use later in life and pass on to their own children.

Bonding

Camping can be a powerful influence for strengthening family bonds, according to the American Camp Association, citing decades of research on the value of family leisure activities. Simple shared activities such as eating cookout meals together, sitting around a fire, telling campfire stories, singing campfire songs and sleeping in the same tent can bring families closer together. If you want to get closer to your children, sitting together around a campfire without the TV to distract you can be a great opportunity.

Exercise

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children between the age of 6 and 17 get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day to stay healthy. But statistics show that the percentage of children who get this amount of exercise declines dramatically with age, reaching 29 percent by high school. If you want to encourage your kids to exercise more, camping can help them associate exercise with fun. The American Camper report found that camping was a gateway to other outdoor activities, with 87 percent of campers participating in other activities. By far, the most popular activity was hiking, engaged in by 70 percent of campers. Other popular physical activities included trail running, kayaking, mountain biking and canoeing.

Teaching Practical Outdoor Skills

Camping gives kids a great opportunity to learn basic outdoor skills that can come in handy in many areas of life. Planning a camping trip teaches kids how to pack for a trip, dress for the weather and organize activities. Learning how to set up, use and break down a campsite without leaving a mess teaches how to use nature responsibly. Cooking teaches how to prepare a meal and how to use fire responsibly. Hiking can teach kids how to read a map, identify landmarks and find directions. Taking kids hunting or fishing can teach them how to find food. Camping gives you an opportunity to teach your kids about basic safety and first aid principles and how to avoid emergencies by preparing.

In order to teach outdoor skills effectively, it’s essential to get good equipment from quality suppliers. For instance, Cabela’s is a top supplier of fishing equipment and other outdoor items. Getting reliable equipment can help make your camping experience go smoother.

Teaching about Nature

As homeschool community owner Tiany Davis details, camping provides an excellent opportunity to make learning fun for kids. Scavenger hunts let you teach your kids about minerals, plants and animals, as well as how to stay safe in the woods. A campfire can become an outdoor lab to learn about fire and how it interacts with different objects. While you’re sitting around the fire, you and your kids can look up at the stars and learn about the constellations. Drawing plants and animals, counting rocks and sticks and keeping a camping journal are a few other ways to turn camping into a fun, educational experience for your kids

 

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