The Important of Experiencing the Joy of the Outdoors!

By hmcneil

There is nothing I enjoy more than spending time outdoors. It’s a chance to get into the water with my kayak, to hike in the mountains, and to go camping. Last weekend my husband and I kicked off our camping season at Herald Provincial Park on Shuswap Lake. We listened to kids, parents, and grandparents bonding in the campground. Those sounds brought back many memories.

Diane KayakWe camped with our kids since they were young. We remembered the challenges of camping with babies and how we wondered if the work on our part was really worth it. We remembered the camping years where our kids couldn’t wait to go. They would ride their bikes around the campground, swim all day, and roast marshmallows around the fire.

Then we remembered camping with teenagers who complained about going and wanted to go on more exotic vacations. In the end, they still loved the camping experience. The conversations we had around the campfire are some of our best family memories.

I know that not everyone is a camper. However, there are still plenty of ways to incorporate the outdoors into your lifestyle while sleeping in the comfort of your own bed. A neighborhood walk, picnic in the park, beach day, fishing trip, or a bike ride along one of our many trails are equally fun activities.

There is no question that in the world we live in today, it can be really easy to experience the outdoors through Google and Instagram. We see pictures of places that look great and we move on to the next thing.

Well, that’s just not the same as real outdoor time. For children, outdoor experiences are becoming more important. It is an antidote for too much screen time. There is lots of research that tells us that attention spans are declining for children and adults. Being outdoors helps us think differently and lets our minds wander. We contemplate small things, like “How does an ant carry that big stick by himself?” or “What is that squirrel thinking?” We feel small when we look up at a starry sky or try to wrap our arms around a hundred year old tree.

Science shows that spending time outdoors can actually make you healthier inside and out. A study from Jo Barton and Jules Pretty demonstrated that even a short amount of time exercising outdoors elevated “both self-esteem and mood irrespective of duration, intensity, location, gender, age, and health status” (Barton and Pretty, pg. 3950. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 2010). Scientific journals are full of interesting studies that show a link between well being and nature.

Here at Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, we plan to get kids outside this summer. Our Club Members will be going to local parks and beaches, playing tennis and baseball, planting flowers, and much more. We’re looking forward to a summer where being active is encouraged and the only screens that we’ll be watching are for movies in the park or drive-in. We encourage you to find some time to get outdoors with friends and family this summer.

- Diane Entwistle, Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs CEO

Diane For Website

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Phone your local Okanagan Boys and Girls Club for information on our summer camps and programs! Click here for contact information.

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