As we move to 2020, and reflect on the last 10 years, one thing has come to the forefront.- Nature is becoming farther removed from our daily life. Technology has taken over as an addiction. Recent results from a survey show, the amount of time kids spend outside is alarmingly low only minutes per day while screen time is at an all time high, some reports as much as hours a day.
National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has issued a health report called Whole Child: Developing Mind, Body and Spirit Through Outdoor Play. The report reveals how America's increased indoor time affects our physical and mental health. Whole Child explores how regular, unstructured outdoor play can boost the health of a child’s mind, body and spirit.
The nature of childhood has changed: There’s not much nature in it. It is not just about a detachment from all things growing and green; it's a public health issue. In the last twenty years, childhood obesity rates have more than doubled. In addition to obesity, Whole Child highlights the rising rates of childhood diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, asthma, and vision problems, all of which can be tempered with adequate outdoor time. The United States has become the largest consumer of ADHD medications in the world and the use of antidepressants in pediatric patients has risen sharply. American kids are out of shape, tuned out and stressed out because they’re missing something essential to their health and development, unstructured time playing outdoors. Could even the increase in teen suicides be influenced by children spending less time out side?
Whole Child includes recommendations for caregivers, healthcare providers, educators and leaders so that, together, they can change America's indoor habits. NWF has also created the Be Out There movement to give back to American children what they don’t even know they’ve lost: their connection to the natural world. The three-year goal is to get 10 million more American children out of their indoor habitat and into the great outdoors. This goal propels us toward a future when all kids spend time outside each day, creating a generation of happier, healthier children with more awareness and connection to the natural world.
Overnight Summer Camp in Minnesota has the ability to make a positive effect on our children. Camps like Swift Nature Camp gives children an extended break form a screen and gets them back in touch. Jeff Lorenz, Camp Director Says, “When children out in nature create fond memories of their childhood, they in adulthood will see a reason to reserve and protect nature into the future” All this is good for kids and good for planet earth. Yet, some still think of it as summer camp.