Camping And Other Outdoor Activities Can Save Our Children’s Futures

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Wed, 04/25/2018 - 9:40am
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American kids have become so sedentary that official studies have shown that 19-year-olds have the same level of activity as 60-year-olds. Electronic devices, being driven rather than walking and a lack of time in the outdoors are all contributing to this trend. Fortunately, there is one outdoor activity that is on the rise and has the potential to help instill good habits in the next generation, camping. A million new households have started camping since 2014, and 13 million Americans say that they plan to camp more in the future. Getting back to nature, exploring our natural treasures and unplugging from the internet can help connect our children to a lifestyle that will help them to stay healthy.

 Getting Outdoors - Where To Start

The National Public Lands Day (September 22 in 2018) is a great opportunity to get to know more about your local amenities. The NPLD is a fee-free day on all federally owned land and is a great chance to go camping with support and at no cost beyond your equipment. If you don’t want to wait until September, start small with a camp in your living room or garden to get the little ones used to the canvas. Use the internet to find out about local camping groups and any special beginner days that they offer.

Why Camping Is So Important

Many of the barriers that stop children being more active outdoors can be overcome by camping. Being in nature removes the issue of dangerous streets, takes you into green spaces and provides a safe haven from strangers. Most importantly, however, camping removes the draw of electronic devices and it stops advertisers from being able to drip feed their messages to our kids. Obesity rates in our children have tripled since the 1970s, as children consume far more energy than they use and physical activity levels are falling. The Centre for Disease Control places part of the blame for this on a lack of opportunities for physical activities in communities. Camping removes this barrier and allows children to learn the fun that can come from fitness.

Food In The Wilderness

Obese adults have been found to be more likely to be fearful of trying new foods. Adults who have a more diverse diet are more likely to be healthier. In order for children to gain the habits necessary to have a diverse diet, it is important that they learn how to cook. Camping is an incredible opportunity to help engage children with cooking. There are some great camping menu ideas available to try. Start with simple dishes like parcels of ground beef with vegetables cooked in foil, serve this with simple bread cooked over a fire and bananas cooked with chocolate. Healthy food is important but healthy habits of being prepared to try new things is what camping trips can set up.

 Stay Safe Out In The Wilderness

Camping offers amazing opportunities for families to spend time with their children in the great outdoors, but there are safety concerns. Children will have far more freedom to explore when camping but you need to establish boundaries. There are some basic rules for staying safe when camping. Plan ahead and check out any potential issues before you go. Research where you want to go and contact any officials (such as park authorities) who may be able to help. Use good judgment at all times and explain the decisions you are making to your children. Camping is an opportunity to develop new skills and instill fantastic habits. Getting back to nature is one of the best ways to help ensure a healthy future for your children.

Now working as a writer, Jackie started her career as an English teacher , but after becoming a mom, refocused and decided to spend more time with her family. When she's not writing, she volunteers for a...

There are 2 Comments
Gwyn Hicks's picture

Thanks so much for including NEEF's National Public Lands Day in this article. It is a great opportunity for families to explore the outdoors and their connection to the environment. Please note that the date of National Public Lands Day - and the fee free day - is actually September 22, 2018. You can learn more here: https://www.neefusa.org/npld
Thanks.

Sara Bowersox's picture

Thanks for catching that! I've updated the article.

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