To children, “Play outdoors” means to run, play with sticks, and collect slimy things.
It also means climb trees, build huts and hideouts, jump in puddles, wade in streams, scramble up big boulders, explore, pretend, discover, and makeup games.
Text: A while back, a group of children hiked to a pretty lake in the mountains. About 20 feet away, in the lake, was a very large boulder. The water between the lake edge and the boulder was about 8 inches deep.
As we ate lunch, one child said, “Do you think we could get to that boulder without getting wet?”
That’s all it took.
To a casual observer, it looked like children in the outdoors playing and having fun—and it definitely was. But to me, their Outdoor Leader, it was also cooperation, problem-solving, resourcefulness, initiative, and leadership—even and especially when the two competing teams decided to join forces and work together!
Once-a-week Outdoor Day at our school looked like an adventure in one form or another. And it was. But built into it was some independent free time. After boundary expectations were set and wilderness safety tips discussed, children were free to play. The rest was magical!
I experienced it hundreds of times as a child myself. You probably did too! And you recognize what I mean when I say that when children spend time in nature–without adults hovering over them–they learn things they can’t any other way.
They learn things they cannot learn from cell phones, video games, or any screen time indoors.
That’s why kids and nature are such a perfect combination.
In the next blog about the “whys of wilderness,” I will discuss the benefits of climbing a tree! Be ready!
P.S. Wild shouts of team victory were heard as the last few children held hands, negotiated the rock bridge, and joined the others on the top of the boulder!
What are you waiting for?
Shop Buddy Packs for amazing outdoor survival gear for Kids & Teens!