“Children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make them top of any conservationist’s list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom” – Tim Gill
Children benefit immensely from an outdoor and adventure summer camp. All the advantages mentioned in the previous blog of different interactions and interventions with outdoors can be achieved in a summer camp collectively. Children learn life skills and life lessons which are usually beyond the scope of their regular schooling. Summer camp, according to the study, fosters emotional intelligence (or EQ), self-confidence, independence, healthy living, environmental awareness, learning, leadership and other skills that prove beneficial long into adulthood. They have enormous amount of fun. They become more alive and enthusiastic towards life. They learn to observe and be one with nature. In this process, children push their boundaries; expand their horizons, feel like natural and empowered leaders with empathy and end up discover themselves in many ways. Outdoor summer camps nourish children’s will, spirit and their whole being. Let’s explore how?!
Children lack the time and opportunities for unstructured play. Children are mostly playing indoors with their gadgets or involved in structured play. While they have their benefits, children’s well being, learning and exhilaration of energy, enthusiasm and feel good factor is tremendous in outdoor unstructured play. O&A camps offer more chances for creativity, risk taking, leadership and problem solving. It also teaches them to be open to new outcomes. There is a height sense of accomplishment and zeal that comes through this form of play. These experiences imprint on children values for a lifetime
School of Life skills
Significant raise in self confidence is observed. Children find means to express problem solving abilities. They are open to uncertainty and challenges that come their way. They are willing to move out of their comfort zones and are open to challenges. Their innate leadership qualities and working together abilities find expression. With every successful completion of activity or challenge a sense of accomplishment seeps into children. They change the way they see themselves and others. They choose and shape values for themselves individual and as a group. This builds their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. They mould their personality through these experiences.
Our lifestyle and comfort has retarded physical activity. The O&A camp is full of it! Children are always in action and movement. Be it hiking, walking, rappelling, jumping, zip lining or obstacle courses or climbing a tree or jumping into a lake. They are active, alive, awake and enthusiastic. Surprisingly, children are never tired, it is as though they are running on endless fuel of enthusiasm and energy. This zeal continues even after the camp is over!
Tends both Cognitive and emotional sides
Outdoor & Adventure camps instill the joy of learning. This comes from tending their thinking and emotional sides through powerful learning experiences. In these camps children are learning and absorbing one thing or the other throughout the camp. Sometimes, consciously and sometimes unconsciously but they are learning throughout. They also learn to think in different perspectives and dimensions. They learn both linear and systems thinking. They reflect upon experiences and behaviors. Imagination and creative skills are heightened in O&A camps. Be it through stories or problem solving or through art and craft. It is seen that children trade their limitations of body, mind and heart and darn the courage to imagine. This ability deepens learning, emotions and cognition beyond the camp as well.
Builds relationships and friendships
O&A camps enable children of varied age groups and personalities engage with each other. The activities are a blend of individual and team work. They live, play, eat and go to bed with each other. Camps are cradles of vulnerabilities. It is a place where the most natural selves and instincts are expressed. This fosters relationship and understanding and empathy towards themselves and with others who are different from oneself. They give and receive, help and be helped, they share food and conversations and also fears. They realize how similar and dissimilar they are. They see children with different attitudes and environments. This exposure itself is a great learning experience and influences children’s quality of relationships.
Love for nature
There is no need to stress the importance or benefits of being in nature. The fresh air, being surrounded by trees and shrubs, waking up to twittering birds, watching sunrise and sunset, lying down under night sky and watching stars evoke wonder and love for nature. In natural spaces, children are natural too. They find joy in simple things, pleasure in simple doings, nature restores innocence in children. When children fall in love with nature they fall in love with themselves, too. When they know nature, they know themselves, too. How they treat nature is how they treat themselves, too. Being in nature is being with themselves, too. Nature is a reflection of one’s inner being. O&A camps provide nature experiences throughout the duration.
With the help of the facilitator or an adult or through their own observation children learn to observe patterns and interconnections that exist in nature. Children exposed to activities are thoughtfully chosen to deepen their understanding about the functioning and laws of nature. Such experiences influence their thinking, actions and decision making even as adults. Thus, their engagement with nature and environment will be conscious and driven by insight and responsibility. This carves them as adults who are empowered and pro earth. This is of paramount importance!
Outdoors and adventure is quintessential for children’s wellbeing and O&A summer camps do their best to provide it.
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