The love of the great outdoors is a passion fading fast with children of the 21st century. Now is the time to renew the hobbies we loved growing up. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that kids just aren’t leaving the house like they used to. Video game consoles, TV and iPads are keeping children trapped inside four walls. These habits are bad for their health, but more importantly they negatively affect learning vital skills and adapting a wherewithal to the outdoors.
Worst case scenario: these skills are necessary in a life or death in the case of a disaster; however, best case scenario is just the benefit of acquiring skills and spending time outside. Here are three ways to get your son or daughter on board with being in the great outdoors:
1. Hiking and Camping
First rule of camping is you have to leave the backyard. Camping is more than simply building a fire and sleeping in a tent; it’s about getting out and exploring the woods before finding a piece of land to set up shop.
It’s easy to find campgrounds in any state and reserve spots online, but if trailblazing is more your thing, there are great hiking and backpacking opportunities to enjoy a more rugged experience.
How to make it fun for the kids:
Give them something to do. Sitting around staring at the fire isn’t the same for kids as it is for adults. Look into some camping games like bags, portable frisbee golf, or even just a football to toss around. All of these will help curb the need to bring the iPad along on a trip that should be free of electronics.
Too few kids know the joy of fishing. And if you live near an ocean, you’re doing them a disservice if you don’t take your son or daughter out on the boat to go deep sea fishing. Plus, getting a boating license is easy and even if you don’t catch a single fish, just being out on the water and teaching your kids how to operate a craft and a fishing pole is a worthy experience.
How to make it fun for the kids:
Assuming everyone has his or her own pole, let your kids real in a catch if you catch a snag on your own pole. The less sitting around, the better. The virtue of patience is an important lesson to learn, but it’s all about baby steps for kids who have shorter attention spans than adults.
3. Let Them Play
It sounds like common knowledge to us, because Millennials grew up playing all over the neighborhood with little to no supervision. But there is an entire generation of children completely sheltered by their parents — and for good reason. Letting kids play outside is so uncommon, in fact, that the practice now has a name: “free-range kids.”
That’s right, by simply letting your kids play outside, they’re labeled like cattle just for doing what kids should be doing — exploring. Don’t fall for this hype. Despite what the scary news stories suggest, the streets aren’t filled with serial killers and sex offenders just waiting to snatch kids off the street. We played outside and did just fine, our kids will be the same way. Of course, cover the ground rules — don’t talk to strangers, be home at certain times, use the buddy system and don’t go to certain areas of town — but other than that, kids just need to be kids. That’s how they learn to love the outdoors.