Camping has great potential of changing the kids’ relationship to food and cooking. Usually an outing with the family involves a restaurant, where the food isn’t prepared. It simply emerges from the special room, and in the hands of the waitress. This is no way to treat meals. Outdoors kids get to appreciate the process of something going from raw to cooked in a manner of processing that isn’t artificial. Sure, the cooking at home comes from an oven or even from over a gas grill, but an open campfire as a way of boiling something, or even simply roasting marshmallows – that’s special. It makes the ritual of cooking real in the mind of the child, increasing their appreciation for it.
There really is no reason to demonise technology. Kids are growing up in a digital world and therefore need to be prepared for a digital world. What is bad for kids is if their only forms of stimuli are digital. They need to literally experience the elements to have their brain wired for a broader perception of life. They need to swim in a lake, catch a fish, start a campfire, and hike in the mountainous wind. Kids will realize that movement is just as good a source of dopamine as laying down with a device in hand. And while the digital world is very real, the physical world is matters also, and taking kids camping every once in a while reminds them of that.
Kids are regimented by school schedules, sports practice, curfews, and the geographical boundaries of their neighborhoods. This reliance on structure doesn’t help children gain the ability to confront the unknown with confidence and critical thinking skills that aid problem solving and creativity. Of course, there is never an absence of structure in their lives. Even in the wild there are rules, where they can’t wander too far, should be careful around fast rivers, and must be able to come back to the camp site without getting lost. But the wild terrain is an adventure in itself. Like landing down on an alien planet, the child explores and gets in trouble with weird looking berries, and nettles, and all kids of insects. But there is always a solution to unexpected problems that you as a parent can always suggest. This makes the kid feel confident when faced with the unknown, even if it isn’t in the wilderness.
Silence and Solitude
A busy metropolis is loud and always full of people. Growing up in such an environment, kids get used to always having to interact with others, and being surrounded by noise. This isn’t healthy, and taking your kids camping can really open their eyes to understanding what silence really sounds like and how to be alone without being cooped up within four walls. They will start paying attention to their own thoughts, instead of always switching between behavioral patterns that make them sociable. It is important to help children cultivate a sense of introspection from an early age, and taking them into a new, serene natural environment is one of the best ways to do it.