The Great Outdoors


This week as we celebrated the first day of summer, I started thinking about picnics, playing in the water, hiking in the mountains, enjoying that first cool slice of watermelon, tasting the juice of that first ripe peach.

In his bestselling book, “Last Child in the Woods,” author Richard Louv writes about how American baby boomers had a completely different experience with the outdoor world than children have today. They were freer to explore, and they weren't saturated in the technology of gaming systems, iPads and cell phones.

Louv urges parents to spend more time outside with their children enjoying nature. He makes the point that kids need this. Some evidence from research seems to show that kids with ADHD and other behavioral disorders may benefit from being outside.

And there’s all sorts of things to do with your children outside: go on a hike; fish; camp; enjoy a picnic in a beautiful spot; examine trees and leaves and bugs; plan a scavenger hunt; lay on a blanket in the yard after dark and pick out the constellations. For some more ideas check out this free guide, “50 Things to Do With Your Family in the Summer.” 

Of course this is down time and it should be fun, but there are some learning opportunities as well. Plus, this is great bonding time between you and your children (don't forget to apply sunscreen and insect repellent). The point is to take the opportunity of these summer days to get outside. Put down the cell phone and the electronic devices for just a little while, and see if you can find a spot far enough away from the city to enjoy a breath of fresh air and a moment of true silence.

Maybe you’ll even hearken back to your own childhood, when you’d stay outside every possible minute catching lightning bugs and playing tag. Isn’t it time someone yelled, “olly, olly oxen free?”

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Last updated on June 22, 2012