[callout]This is a guest post from Pasquale R. Mingarelli. Pasquale spent 11 years on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru) and currently works as a Christian speaker, adjunct college instructor, and nature photographer. He posts a photo and Bible verse each day on his blog site visualverse.thecreationspeaks.com, where he also writes about encountering God in the outdoors. You can connect with Pasquale on Twitter. If you want to guest post on my blog, check out my guest post guidelines and submit your post.[/callout]
My little girl fell face first into the dirt and began to cry. We quickly moved to pick her up, but she would have none of it. In her two-year-old words, our determined little girl said, “I do it self!” She picked herself up from the trail.
We dusted her off and after some tears our energized little girl and the rest of us continued our hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. When my family and I, along with our two friends, began our trek down from Calypso Cascade our daughter Talitha set it in her heart to walk down the entire trail.
We reached the trail’s end shortly after her tumble. There she gleefully pointed to the sign as my wife read it to her: “Calypso Cascade 1.8 miles”. She did it! And she was very proud of herself. Meanwhile, her younger brother, Pasquale, chose the baby backpack option to make it down. Either way, my wife and I knew the importance of getting them outside early in life.
We Need to Get Our Kids Outside
This summer a disturbing video, released by a granola company, went viral on social media. The video illustrated how kids today spend enormous amounts of time inside as compared to previous generations. In another recent video, author and leadership speaker Michael Hyatt mentioned the numerous spiritual and health benefits of getting outside.
Studies show kids experience even greater benefits to getting outside than adults do. Families also benefit when we get outside together. Hiking, fishing, canoeing, rock climbing, and camping are great ways to do this.
Fall makes for a wonderful time of year to head outside. Besides the beautiful foliage, October and November bring cooler temperatures that make outdoor activities more enjoyable and many of the unpleasant bugs have begun to die off.
Here are Five Benefits of Getting Outside as a Family:
Family Memories: I’ll never forget the magical moment on one fall hike when my kids were still both preschoolers. I opened up a dry milkweed seedpod and out floated dozens of seeds. They drifted off into the wind and my children gazed on them with eyes of wonder. Nature makes great family memories. My family and I have many of them. We have memories of being caught in the cold rain while hiking, memories of encountering a large herd of elk in a mountain meadow, memories of being inside a tent when it started to snow and many, many more. And we made all these memories with our kids still under the age of six.
Affordability: A fun day of fishing, hiking, or canoeing is a lot less expensive than going to an amusement park or water park. The entrance to one of our great national parks or state parks is far more budget friendly than a trip to Disney World. Any family with any budget can afford to do these things.
Kids get outside: We all know it and none of us like it. Our kids spend too much time inside and fail to reap the benefits of being outside. The National Wildlife Federation notes that getting kids outside reduces childhood stress, helps minimize the affects of attention deficit disorder, enriches a child’s brain so they do better in school, makes the child healthier, and helps prevent nearsightedness.
Teamwork: Activities such as camping and other outdoor interests help build teamwork. When we camp there is set-up, cooking, and plenty of other work that requires family members to pitch in to make the trip run smoothly. Even young children can help with tent poles or fetch water from a spigot. When we stay in a hotel we all just crash, but camping requires everyone to help out. Other outdoor activities such as rock climbing, fishing, hiking, or boating usually involve gear and set-up that allow each family member to participate in teamwork.
Spiritual time with God: The lack of electronic connectivity allows for plenty of spiritual connectivity. Outside we can find solitude with God away from the rush of life. Nature also reveals God’s majesty, power, creativity, infinite imagination, and wisdom. What better place to contemplate the greatness of God then the outdoors?
[reminder]In what ways can you spend more time with your family outside and how would your family benefit?[/reminder]
Spent three days hiking through the Shenandoah Valley with my son. Great bonding time and got to see some awesome country. We also completed passport to purity that weekend.
Thanks for the comment, Kirby. That must have been an awesome time with your son! What a great way to complete the passport to purity. That’s a memory he will always cherish. Thanks for posting the photos.
Thanks for the reminder. We so often get so buried in everything we have going on that we forget the beauty and benefit of outdoors. I was raised on a farm in Idaho and I often long for those days where the majority of our time, especially during summer and fall were spent outside. So many great benefits and you articulate it well in this post. Thanks again!
Darin, thanks for the comment and thoughts. How fun it must have been to grow up on a farm? The boyhood adventure’s must have been endless.
This is such an important reminder. Our family camping trips, hikes, fishing excursions, and time ice-skating on a frozen pond, really are some of my favorite memories. As a family, we’ve had some excellent, outdoor experiences. And this post has also reminded me that I need to be intentional about continuing to build upon these memories 🙂
Jed, thanks for your thoughts and comment. It seems a few years ago, being outside just happened for kids. Unfortunately, today we do have to be, as your say, intentional about getting outside and that’s especially true for our kids.
Thanks for the great ideas. I grew up always being outside and I miss those days for my kids. As a family we have been visiting each of the state parks in Georgia. It’s turned into a sort of quest to visit each of them. We’ve made so many great memories just connecting with God’s handiwork and breathing the fresh air together.
Thanks for the reminders to get outside and enjoy the time with our family and kids!
Awesome Jesse! Great idea. Sounds like a lot of fun making memories, connecting with each other and connecting with God.
I too grew up outside as a kid. We did so much and made a lot of memories. Today’s kid need those memories. So many are missing out.
Great thoughts, Pat! Thanks for the important reminders.
You’re welcome, Andrew! And thanks for reading and commenting.