We are in a nature deficit right now. Our youngest generation, the millennials, are spending too much time (in a camp lover’s opinion) living sedentary lifestyles in front of the computer, TV, and iPad. Unplugging at camp (intentional or unintentional due to a lack of cell reception) has many benefits-both physical and educational.
Whether your child attends camp for one week or seven, they will be surrounded by nature, and this is a good thing for their bodies and minds.
Here are my top 10 reasons that describe how camp helps kids develop curiosity about nature:
- Nature is absolutely beautiful. Those spectacular golden sunsets make us question, “How on earth does the sky produce those magical colours?”
- Nature is emphasized through programs. Programming that is based around “living off the land” is often an inspiration for the campers.
- The staff are experts. Our camp staff have passions that are deeply rooted in an understanding of nature. Some are even in the middle of their ecology degrees. This is a true story of one of my past camp colleagues. The chicken and egg question is important here. What came first, my friend’s interest in nature (from camp) leading her to pursue a degree in ecology, or an ecology degree that interested her in working at camp? (Answer: the first)
- Observation breeds questions. Observation, and sometimes experience. Sticky sap fingers are sure to raise a camper’s eyebrows to ask, “How do the trees make this sticky stuff!!!?”
- You get starstruck. It’s hard to tell if the youngest campers are actually distinguishing the big dipper when you point it out to them in the sky, but the galaxy “far far away” is so mysterious and is a source of so many curious camper questions.
- Emphasis of camp on respecting the land. The camp culture is to respect and appreciate the land it resides on. Appreciating and understanding nature are often at the core of camp’s values.
- Nature is unavoidable. And sometimes you have to run away from it! You don’t see deer flies in the city…
- Shared interests amongst campers. Many campers have a knack for nature and are eager to share their knowledge with peers.
- Experiences create interest. Learning to build a fire and understanding the mechanics of doing so incite a positive response from campers.
- There is nothing else to talk about. On canoe trip, it’s just you, the lake, the woods and if you’re lucky, the moose.
Sending your kid to camp might be like opening up a can of (good) worms. Yes, when they come home, they are dirty. However, the next time you go for a walk in the park with them, you’ll have a personal tour guide who can tell you all about the insects, trees, and surrounding environment!
About the Author:
Jay Gilbert is an MBA graduate sharing thoughts on leadership. Striving to unlock talents of human resources & promote leadership development in youth. Author of The Cabin Path – Lessons Learned At Camp Visit www.cabinpath.ca to learn more about the book. Connect with Jay on twitter at @jay_gilbert.