If you are a parent, you are probably well aware that in many cases, children are simply averse to going outside. With so many indoor distractions ranging from video games, box sets, t'interweb, phones e.t.c., kids have become lazy with regards to entertaining themselves. All the more so when online life can often be perceived as being more interesting than "real" life, "real" world situations.
Who can blame them? There is little need for imagination and creative play when all possible lifestyles, scenarios and adventures are played out on screen, for us to experience vicariously. Surely nothing in nature can compare? Wrong! Or so we like to believe!
Show them another way! Initially, there may be some resistance and you may need to wean them off their dependency on technology. If done as early as possible, this will be a lesser task. Incorporating time spent in nature into their usual activities will make it seem more natural an environment to spend time in. Most likely, you will find that after overcoming the initial resistance, your kid(s) will come to love and value time outside. Teaching them about plants, animals and outdoor skills will open them up to a whole new world of information and experience. As they become more familiar and comfortable with the outdoors, they will come to appreciate it and hopefully come to crave it. Eventually, it will be ingrained in their psyche as being a perfectly normal and healthy activity to take part in. They will come to value the time they have spent with you outside.
Encouraging engagement and participation. We often hear parents complaining about the lack of enthusiasm displayed by their children, when it comes to participation in outdoor activities. Here are a few methods which have been suggested to us by parents:
(1) Buy them a mini survival kit! To a child, this opens up a whole world of possibilities. All the interesting bits of kit, how to use them and how each piece relates to the outdoors. Teaching how to use the kit can also be a great way to bond with your child and can be a great learning curve for the both of you. Naturally, all use will require adult supervision, particularly with regards to sharp tools.
(2) Pique their interest by teaching them about all the animals and plants that they may come across. The prospect of seeing the flora and fauna in the flesh may also be thrilling for child. Seeing a badger in the wild, for example, will always be an interesting experience and is a great way to cement all the knowledge you have imparted at home.
(3) Get them involved in an outdoor organisation such as the UK Scouting Association. You may find this is the path of least resistance.
(4) Allow them to bring a friend along. As your child approaches the teenage years, in their eyes, you will eventually fall into the "lame" and "embarrassing" category (unless you are very lucky!). Having a friend along may make the entire experience less tedious and they may even enjoy it.
(5) For older children, going as a group may be more appealing (accept the fact that you probably won't be invited along!). Going with their peers may make them feel more "grown up" and independent. If you have given them a good foundation of outdoors knowledge, they will easily be able to take care of themselves. It's also a great way to teach your kids how to be self sufficient.
As globalisation slows, we are experiencing a slight resurgence of a return to micro management as opposed to macro management. We as humans have started to realise that important decisions can be and need to be made on a smaller scale. This way, decisions and changes can be fine tuned to suit local requirements. Blanket policies are continuously shown to be ineffective and as people become aware of this, the need for local management becomes ever more pressing. It makes so much sense on a practical level.
To some extent. the argument is circular - kids are bored, they no longer develop good imaginations, they are dependent on media to entertain them, which makes them less imaginative. Catch 22.
Moral of the story - break the cycle, make your kids go outside! It's good for 'em!
This is what it should look like -
The Bushgear Team
Photo courtesy of TreeHugger.com