I never thought I would say this, but when I was a kid, summers were spent playing outdoors. There were no smartphones, iPads, laptops, or any other fancy technology to distract us. And vacations? Well, we spent those camping.
S'mores roasting over the campfire, deer sightings just beyond the campsite, and trekking through the woods on unknown paths left a lasting impression. Camping forges memories and strengthens family bonds. Most kids do not spend enough time playing outdoors, which can be detrimental to their health – both physical and mental. Do the family a favor and go camping for the weekend. Whether you choose to rough it in the woods or opt for a paid site, camping will teach your children important life lessons that will prepare them to tackle challenges down the road. From appreciation of nature to building the most basic skills, the following four are reason enough to get the kids outdoors.
BUILDS SURVIVAL SKILLS
Learning basic survival skills is a necessity of life. Pitching a tent, building a fire, and cooking your own food are all valuable survival skills. Fire gives us warmth and hot food. Tents provide shelter from the weather. And cooking, well, we all have to eat sometime. When you are in the wilderness and outside the comforts of home, you have nothing to rely on but your own skill set. The vital skills kids learn from camping can help them throughout their life. Life is constantly throwing curveballs and does not always provide the comforts of home. Whether it's an emergency, the car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, or they encounter a problem that needs a little brain power, your kids will be ready.
BE PREPARED, BRING A MAP
When you are out in the middle of nowhere and your GPS has failed, what do you do? Read the map! Getting lost can be scary, but finding your way back to camp with a map is rewarding. Relying on paper rather than a gadget will teach kids that not everything can be solved by technology. Sometimes, you have to rely on your own abilities. This simple tool teaches kids the importance of preparation and trusting your instincts.
APPRECIATION OF NATURE THROUGH EDUCATION
Exposing kids to the outdoors can form a lifelong bond with nature. Preserving our resources, conserving our lands, and protecting wildlife will be up to them one day. A camping trip can build their respect at an early age. Bring a few guide books--insects, flowers, plants, or animal tracks -- and use these guides to turn identification into a fun, interactive activity. Is that a pine tree or a birch? What's the difference? How about those footprints? A bobcat? Maybe a dog? What animals need which plants to survive? Your kids will be so thrilled with what they learn, they'll go home and tell their friends about it.
BASIC PROBLEM SOLVING
Say someone accidentally forgot to check the gear and you are missing a tent pole. Or your firewood got wet and now you can't cook dinner. What do you do? Improvise. Limited resources can first appear to cause a hindrance,, but with a little thought, challenges can be overcome. Camping is terrific when it comes to building problem solving skills. Encourage kids to think outside the box when problems arise. Working with them on finding a solution is not only rewarding, but will allow them to encounter obstacles down the road with confidence and a good attitude.
Encountering these life lessons will not only assist your kids in becoming well-rounded, but they are sure to strengthen family bonds. Life's distractions are diminished in nature, leaving nothing but time to share with those you love. By working through challenges and overcoming them together with a positive attitude, family ties are sure to grow.