An Outdoor Childhood
I clearly remember a day during our summer school holiday when I was about 10. Our parents worked, so during school holidays, my sister and I would often spend time at our cousin’s house under the not-so-watchful eye of their nanny (this was way before the time of helicopter parenting and we had a lot of freedom for outdoor play). Being boys, my cousins were always building something and on this particular day, they decided to build a zip line, or ‘foefie slide’, between two large trees on either side of the swimming pool. It worked (real little engineers, then already) and as we would slide over the pool, we would let go and fall into the cool water. It was an awesome amount of fun!
Our childhood was characterised by seemingly endless days of fun, playing outside. The only time (apart from meal times), anyone would catch us in the house was when it was raining outside or it was really cold, and on these days, the house became the outdoors - we built forts and climbed on the furniture. We hardly ever watched T.V. (partly because there really was not much to watch) and we were always dirty and barefoot.
Fast forward a few years and the modern day childhood is characterised more by screens, apps and online games, than exploring the outdoors. Sadly, living in the city means that kids do not always have big gardens to play in, crime prevents children from roaming the streets and the rise of busy helicopter parents means that kids spend more and more time engaging in passive indoor activities, as this provides a ‘safe’, controlled and ‘easy entertainment’ environment.
This continuous always-on-screen-time mentality has however given rise to many studies and specialists have started speaking out in favour of our own outdoor and active childhoods, promoting it as a successful model for childhood development (read about the benefits of outdoor activities in childhood development here)
This raises the question, how, then do we nurture a love of the outdoors in our children, within a safe environment? Here are 3 ways:
Parents, take Part in Outdoor Activities & Excursions: Be the Example
Children learn to love what they are continuously exposed to and although we as parents do not always want to believe it (in the hope that our kids will become better than us), children do become who we are, they embody the values we live. Our children mimic what we do and they base their opinions on a reference framework we help them create.
Here are some fun outdoor activities:
• Family walks or hikes
• Visit a park
• Visit the zoo
• Climb trees during an Acrobranch obstacle course (Acrobranch has amazing, safe & guided family activities on offer)
• Spend time in the garden, running, playing with a ball etc
• Enjoy a family picnic
Above all, take part in these activities with your child. And enjoy them - you are the example. Read about our recent family adventure here.
Go Camping & Explore
Even if it is in your own garden, have an outdoor adventure. Collect and identify the various leaves, flowers and bugs in your surroundings and have fun simply exploring.
When we were little, we ‘chased’ a lot of waterfalls. Read here for more of that.
Start an Outdoor Hobby
Talk to your kids, find out what hobby would interest them and take this up as a family. Not only will it get your kids to start loving the outdoors, it is a great bonding opportunity.
Here are some ideas:
• Tree-top obstacle courses: an affordable way in which to promote skill development (balance, climbing and stretching), problem-solving and a love of the outdoors, all under the watchful eye of a trained guide. Where: Acrobranch (they have 6 branches nationwide - click here to find out more)
• Mountain Biking
• Rock Climbing & Abseiling
• Watersports, for eg, kayaking, rafting or skiing
We live in a country with a lot of space and good weather, making it easy for families to nurture a love of nature. Take advantage of this, breathe in the fresh air, relish the feeling of the warm sun beaming onto your face or that cool breeze next to a gurgling stream. There is nothing better.
For more information please visit: Acrobranch