Getting Kids to Unplug and Get Outside
For 85 summers, campers at Camp Quinebarge in Moultonborough NH have spent their time outdoors all day in activities designed to help them grow, become more confident, and learn life skills all while having the times of their lives. Research shows that youth who play outside are happier, more focused, and less anxious than youth who spend more time indoors. Then why are young people spending more and more time inside? The University of Michigan found that the average American child spends less than 30 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play, and over 6 hours a day in front of a screen. To describe how modern kids have a severe lack of time and opportunities outside, author Richard Louv coined the term “Nature-Deficit Disorder”. Louv interviewed a child who once told him how he enjoyed indoor play more than outdoor play “’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are”.
At Quinebarge, we know why getting outdoors is good for kids: It helps them be active, builds their confidence, and encourages imagination and creativity. Time outdoors also helps reduce a child’s stress and fatigue. Time indoors involves ‘directed attention’, which requires people to ignore distractions and interruptions, which can exhaust your brain. In an outdoor natural environment, we exercise a relaxed type of attention known as ‘soft fascination’, which can create feelings of happiness. Research has even shown that being outside makes children nicer, improving social connections, value for community, and close relationships. Giving children rustic outdoor sleepaway camp experience is invaluable for their development.
At Camp Quinebarge, we value the idea of screen free time. Not having distracting electronics and cell phones allows campers a different chance to interact meaningfully with their surroundings. We strive to make each camper’s experience happy, healthy, and positive. When campers at Camp Quinebarge are enjoying time outdoors, they can think more freely and approach the natural world in inventive ways. It also gives them the great opportunity to connect with peers and mentors, all without the aid of technology. Getting back to basics is what camp is all about!
For more information on how time outside can be beneficial to a child’s development, visit https://childmind.org and http://www.nwf.org.