I spend a lot of time taking young people out into nature, mostly the local kids and scouts. It could be a full weekend camp or just a night picnic in a local forest. I do this because I really believe that helping kids know in their bodies the pleasure of being outside will be something that can be with them for the rest of their lives. Oh and because its an excuse for me to get out too!
Kids and Teens need unstructured, off-line “play” for healthy mental and physical development. More and more research is emerging about this; as explained for example, in The Washington Post‘s recent article “Ten ways to help kids fall in love with being outside”.
Here are a three winners from me for all ages:
- Any version of a hide and seek game – we have an ever morphing game called Mouse and Karearea which involves being super stealthy and quiet and then intense moments of action, using all the senses and diving head first into bushes. It always ends with “can we play again?”
- A mini night solo – sitting on a track spaced about 10 m apart in silence and with your torch off just listening and looking and feeling then sharing about the experience after. It always grounds and brings more cohesion to a group of kids.
- Unstructured fossicking – encouraging young people wherever we are to look out for interesting nature things and to celebrate and ask questions about what we find; a dead jellyfish, poo!, a crayfish shell. This encourages curiosity and learning and builds confidence and wonder.
Right, off to organise a midwinter swim….
Nothing beats mucking about in the river!