The Value of Connecting to Nature

Why are fewer youth playing outdoors?

Analysis of previous Oregon Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) results indicates that participation in traditional outdoor recreation activities is decreasing. The available literature in this area of study indicates that youth participation in outdoor activities is decreasing because of several factors, including:

  • Greater youth focus on electronic activities (TV, video games, internet), which compete for time and raise the level of stimulation needed to gain and maintain attention
  • Loss of free time – an increase in structured time
  • Increased urbanization, and thus distance from natural areas
  • Increase in single-family households
  • Fear of allowing children to be unsupervised away from home.

Why children need their parents to play outdoors?

Since participation in outdoor recreation as youth is correlated with participation as adults, there is the potential for a continuous cycle of reinforcing participation—but also a downward cycle if participation declines, since interest and skills may not be passed to the next generation.
If you are a parent that was not exposed to nature as a child, you’re less likely to take your children into nature. Need some help - we are here for you.

What are the benefits of playing outdoors?

When we look at today’s youth we know they are more sedentary than any other time in history, and therefore we are faced with a youth obesity crisis. We also are aware that prescription medication for youth (ADD & depression) is at an all time high. How can we help today’s youth?

There are many studies that show the benefits for youth who are consistently engaged in outdoor recreation activities in natural settings. Those benefits include:

  • Physical health – becoming more active and less likely to become obese
  • Emotional health – unstructured time to explore reduces stress and fear
  • Social connectedness – healthy play opportunities with peers
  • Educational growth – experiential learning opportunities that involve all the senses
  • Spiritual growth – connecting to the natural world
  • Family connection – creating memories from shared experiences
  • Stewardship – understanding the value of nature and need to preserve it for the future

Interested in learning more – please read; Last Child in the Woods; Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv, or visit the Children in Nature Network.

Find an easy way for parents and their children to engage in nature and play outdoors, become an Outdoor Seeker!

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