After a long school year spent confined to the classroom and plugged into technology, a summer spent in the great outdoors can have endless benefits for children in today’s technology soaked world. The summer months provide the perfect opportunity for kids to enjoy spending time in the outdoors. Outdoor activities force kids to be more attentive of their environment and interact with their peers as they are drawn away from iPhones, iPads and computer screens that tend to monopolize their attention while confined from nature.
Time spent outdoors provides a platform for healthy social interactions without the use of technology, and encourages kids to interact with each other outside of the realm of online social media that we have become so dependent on. The nationwide movement “No Child Left Inside” which grew out of the 2005 Richard Louv book, Last Child in the Woods highlighted the need to get children tuned into the outdoors and unplugged from electronic devices. “Getting kid’s outdoors more, experiencing nature directly could serve as an antidote to much of what ails the young,” Louv says. High rates of childhood obesity, a lack of physical education programs in schools and an increase in technology use and gaming all combine to suggest there is a need for outdoor unplugged experiences now more than ever. Learning to work in a team, learning how to collaborate and work together with others and developing social skills and friendships are essential life skills for children today and camp can be a great place to kick start this learning.
Technology can often become a crutch and can take our time and attention away from other aspects of our lives. Spending too much time in front of a computer screen or online means there is less time for interacting with family and friends, less time to pursue hobbies and activities which help make us well rounded as individuals. Madeleine Levine, a local Bay Area psychologist and author of “Teach your Children Well” makes the connection between summer camp environments and the benefits for kids of being away from technology for a time. “At camp, if you really want kids outdoors running around, learning how to get along with other kids… – and not on Facebook – then I think a tech-free environment is probably best. Remove the temptation and the kids will have to focus on all the wonderful things camp has to offer. And he’ll probably find it to be a richer, more rewarding experience.”
Traditional outdoor summer camps can be the ideal opportunity to unplug and step away from the computer; they also offer the perfect environment for children to immerse themselves in nature and actually experience the natural world without the encumbrance of technology.
Roughing It is an all outdoors traditional day camp located at the Lafayette Reservoir and is celebrating its 41st summer this year. Summer Day Camps Serving the San Francisco, East Bay, & Contra Costa Communities. For more information go to www.roughingit.com