Spending time outdoors can benefit your family's brain, health and your wallet!
In today's fast-paced lifestyle, many families rely on their annual family vacation in order to reconnect. With so much riding on this time together, families need to choose a vacation that is able to provide multiple functions: de-stress the family while bringing them closer together; allow parents to relax while entertaining kids and it doesn't hurt if it is friendly on the budget.
Luckily for Canadian families, camping is a great option just outside their front door.
Unplug and unwind
While some parents may wonder how much work is involved in a vacation in the great outdoors, those who do camp with their family often find that the small tasks that need to be tackled are actually part of the fun. Without Wi-Fi, phone calls or television, it's easy to focus on setting up camp, getting dinner going or the campfire lit. Then you can actually unwind and relax to enjoy the fruits of your labour. You may even find you have time to finally start reading that (paper!) novel that you have been putting off for months or take a long siesta in the sun.
With nothing to distract you, your kids will bask in the ability to hold your attention. Younger kids will be happy with a bit of sand or water, and older children can take this time to learn some fun new skills like fishing, driving a boat or building their first fire.
A brain boost
While taking a break from the day-to-day busy-ness of our lives can be a great way to recharge batteries, it is far from the only benefit of spending time in nature, especially for your kids. In fact, a study published by the University of Cincinatti found that time outdoors is essential for children's healthy development. Children with ADHD may benefit even further. A study by SAGE journals saw correlations between interactions with nature and improvement of the brain's direction attention ability. This was attributed to the difference in natural vs. urban stimulus—nature often allows the brain to quietly observe while an urban setting directs attention in different areas simultaneously. Perhaps, this is why researchers have found children with ADHD are able to concentrate better after being outdoors . Older children may also feel the benefits of time outdoors on their mental health. A study by the Children and Nature network reported that Canadian youth reported feelings of calm and peace after spending time in nature.
Work it out
Camping as a family lends itself to fun physical activity. Instead of running on a treadmill in a gym or musty basement, you can explore nature trails together, paddle a canoe as a team or even take a dip in the lake.
Fresh air combined with vitamin D and some activity will brighten everyone's mood, not to mention create some amazing memories.
For the little ones, there could be nothing more valuable than a some time spent playing in the dirt. Not only can they engage with some sensory play without worrying about the mess, but if they end up getting any of the dirt in their mouth, they are likely to see some health benefits! According to Dr. Josh Axe, author of Eat Dirt, it's possible that soil-based organisms can help treat a variety of health issues including asthma and nutrient deficiencies.
Smarten them up
Allowing your children to explore in nature can also help to develop a life-long love of learning. According to Alyson Schafer, Canadian author and parenting expert, encouraging your child to explore in an environment that is not rigid can promote learning. By eliminating the worry of mess, your child is able to explore with less barriers.
Outdoor education is also an unique opportunity for hands-on learning. Children can learn about water and plant life by examining them close up. They can gain skills in hiking, cooking or biking and in turn, build up their self-esteem.
Budget friendly fun
While you can't put a price on memories, it doesn't hurt that camping can be as frugal or as extravagant as you would like it to be. Whether you choose a private campsite like those available on Pitched.ca or a provincial park, travel is usually possible in the family vehicle within a few hours. Furthermore, camping equipment, once invested in, can be reused again and again.
By choosing to camp, many families who could not afford to travel can now spend this quality time away or travel more often. With destinations often close to home, vacations are not limited to once or twice a year. Many families can get away for long weekends or even a night for some family fun.
With all these reasons to try camping with your family, the only thing that is holding you back may be your lack of experience. Lucky for you, camping is a great learning experience for the whole family. Check out Pitched.ca to find the perfect campsite for you and your family, and then get ready to make some amazing memories!