Child health and development at summer camp
Research shows kids are healthier, learn better, and form lasting friendships when they spend an extended amount of time outside away from technology.
Study after study has shown when children are out in nature regularly they are more mentally and physically healthy1. The combination of physical activity and being outdoors is proven to be important to mental, physical, and environmental health. Nature is viewed by scientists and researchers as a fundamental health resource.
Being out in nature helps people recover from stress and anxiety much faster than suburban and urban settings2. Children are more stressed and anxious now than ever before. According to the CDC, the number of children diagnosed with anxiety, ages six to 17, has increased over the last decade3. Anxiety also increases with age4. The pre-teen years are especially vulnerable to this, as they are the years anxiety grows the most according to the CDC’s study.
There are many actions parents can take to counteract the massive influx of mental health issues which stem from a technology centered world. Perhaps the easiest and cheapest is simply allowing children to get out and into nature. Studies have indicated that a walk in the park can ease the mind and boost the concentration of a child with ADHD5.
Allowing children to go to summer camp is also a viable option to increase their mental health and unplug them from their electronic devices. Not only does summer camp provide physical exercise in a natural environment, but research has shown that summer camp can improve kids’ social and relational skills6. Summer camp connects children in person, not online, which helps them feel more comfortable with their identity.
The benefits of summer camp are supported by research and are applicable remedies to many of the mental and physical health issues of children today. Immersion in nature must continue after their week at camp. Children need continued exposure to the social, natural, and physical elements that the camp environment provides.
Kids thrive outside. The change to increased exposure to outdoor life can start safely at summer camp.
1Pretty, J. (2004). How nature contributes to mental and physical health. Spirituality and Health International, 5(2), 68-78.
2Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R. F., Losito, B. D., Fiorito, E., Miles, M. A., & Zelson, M. (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of environmental psychology, 11(3), 201-230.
3Data and Statistics on Children’s Mental Health. (2019, April 19). Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html
5Faber Taylor, A., & Kuo, F. E. (2009). Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park. Journal of attention disorders, 12(5), 402-409.
6Hanna, N. A., & Berndt, T. J. (1995). Relations between friendship, group acceptance, and evaluations of summer camp. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 15(4), 456-475.
-Carl Kulper, Communications Specialist
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center