My sincere hope is that camping is not seen as “old-fashioned” and therefore passe. Camping doesn’t have to be about the stereotypical plaid shirts and bushmen (although I’ve always fancied both of these things). Getting outdoors is a form of escapism just as movies and the internet can be, only it offers a whole host of additional benefits.
With the proliferation of technology, traditional skills that were once passed on from our parents are being lost. Once upon a time parents took their kids camping and fishing and on endless road trips for entertainment. It seems that more and more now, kids are plunking themselves in front of the flat screen and passively staring at reruns rather than being engaged with others and their environment. Gone are the days of riding bikes, climbing trees and road hockey games stretching far into the night. Gone too are those camping trips with the folks.
If media reports are true, kids are increasingly sedentary, overweight and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. I’m not knocking the advances that have been made in technology. The internet and educational programming on television can be great resources. Why not use them to ensure that our kids reverse those scary statistics? Research how to take the family into the great outdoors if you don’t already possess the necessary skills like signing up to participate in a “Learn To Camp” seminar at a Provincial or National Park. Connect with others that are participating in the activities that interest you. Or forget technology and simply get back to basics with a stroll around the block.
I’ve found the outdoor community to be a very friendly one. Join a club that organizes outings to get you started. Try car camping for a night and work your way up to longer and more involved trips. If you’ve ever thought, “someday I’ll take the kids camping. Maybe when they’re older”. Make today the day that you start planning that trip for real.
There are so many benefits both physical and psychological, to getting away from the noise of the city and the walls that cut us off from world around us. Exercise, fresh air, room to roam…peace, time to reflect, time to think without distraction, space to dream.
Living in Canada, we have been blessed with the ultimate outdoor playground. So take advantage of our good fortune and give your kids the greatest gifts you can…healthy habits for life and time spent together. Take your kids outside.
Take me outside. Our response to these three words are what will make the difference between a generation of sedentary, obese and uninvolved youth, or happy, healthy and socially engaged ones. As adults we have a responsibility to make the right choice.
There exists an organization, aptly named Take Me Outside, that is working towards getting our kids into the great outdoors. The mission statement on their website takemeoutside.ca says it all.
We believe in the power of outdoor experiential learning. We believe in the countless benefits that having a relationship with nature brings. We believe in getting youth outside and active and hope to promote this message through various means of advocacy, including an apparel initiative to get students outside of the classroom. Take Me Outside is a non profit organization whose next project is to run across Canada, encouraging youth to get outside, be active and reconnect with nature.
The “next project” is well under way and Colin Harris is making amazing strides. Colin launched his run across Canada 251 days ago in Newfoundland and crossed into Alberta on September 17th. He is running to raise awareness and is making stops along the way to speak at schools and to community groups (over 75 already) about the benefits of getting outside. I have been told that he recently lost his support vehicle driver when they had to unexpectedly drop out. Colin was faced with making the decision to call it quits or keep on going. His strong belief in the cause wouldn’t let him quit. He’s on his own now and will be arriving in Calgary soon (likely Monday September 26th). It would be great if he could receive a warm reception and some words of encouragement from anyone in the area. Don’t live in Calgary? Jump on the website and send him a message and while you’re there, be sure to buy an “Ask your teacher to take you outside” t-shirt (also available at Mountain Equipment Co-op) and connect on Facebook.
setting a good example...outdoor play is fun!
If you are a parent that wants to help further the cause, here are the three biggest ways that you can make a difference to your own family, and your community.
- Outdoor Play – Spend some time outdoors being active rather than cooped up inside. Anything that is going to get your family moving…ride a bike, take a walk, play at the park, go CAMPING!
- Outdoor Learning – Time spent outdoors during school hours. Lesson plans that include time outside for projects and to reinforce concepts and curriculum engage the students and can improve participation and academic performance. Become an outdoor advocate by ensuring that your school as well as the school board know you believe that outdoor learning is an important component of your children’s education and encourage them to make including it a goal.
- Active Transportation – An excellent way to guarantee that you and your children achieve at least the minimum amount of daily exercise required for optimum health is to walk or ride your bike to school or work.
playing at our local school - everyday outdoor play
Give your family the greatest gifts there are… health, confidence and time spent together. Get outside.