We live in the incredible comfort of modern times where all imaginable conveniences are at our fingertips, and all surrounding infrastructure is tailored to an efficient and effortless living. We fought long and hard to build the world we have today, but at the same time, we lost a different world as well. It is important for a child’s development to leave the comfort of a gated cul de sac and go exploring. Afterall, that is what childhood is all about. And it is up to you as a parent to make that happen. Here are some of the reasons to take your kids camping and why it is worth considering making that activity a family tradition.
Urban kids who never really engaged with nature become deeply indoctrinated by the way a city operates. Everything has a price; if you want to have fun, you better bring cash; the cure for boredom is buying stuff. These are the kinds of ideas that kids grow up with even unconsciously, so they grow up gravitating to material things to get some dopamine. In nature, there is no way to spend your money. Everything is free, in a sense, and you just need a good dose of imagination to think of an adventure that doesn’t involve a restaurant, a mall, a store, a gift shop. Despite the initial displeasure that the kid may have, simply introducing them to something as basic and visceral as starting a campfire will give them a new sensation of their relationship to their physical surroundings. This way the kid will know that buying something isn’t the goal of any given day.
This might seem like a negative, but you will be surprised. There was a study in Europe conducted by a group of researchers and designers to determine the cause of injuries on playgrounds. Even though playgrounds were being made as safe as possible, with structures being low height, made of soft plastic, with rubberised flooring, there was still some rate of injury of kids playing there. After hundreds of hours of observation, researchers have found that the reason playgrounds were dangerous is because they were too safe, and, therefore, boring. To entertain themselves, kids would misuse the playground infrastructure, climbing on top of plastic houses and going up the slides the wrong way. The main takeaway from that research is that kids innately need there to be some risk involved in their environment as they develop. A trip to nature provides exactly that – a mild sense or risk in an environment that wasn’t artificially designed for kids. Like playing with the pain of a baby tooth that is about to fall out, kids need the risk of scratches and bruises when they play. Take them out camping, and you will see how much joy they get from climbing trees or trying to traverse a stream without getting wet. They are learning the capabilities of their bodies, and a trip to relative wilderness is a sure way to help them do that.