Fridays with Franky: WeHaKee, It’s Only Natural!
And in our technology-saturated world, one might think that our children would be less and less influenced by an outdoor experience. Would they turn their backs on an opportunity to set aside the smartphone and step outside for some quality in time in the great outdoors? That is certainly not happening at WeHaKee.
The WeHaKee experience is virtually technology-free. At times campers will arrive and be extremely reluctant to step away from their technological tethers fearing the loss of their connections. But they quickly find that they are able to connect quickly and more genuinely when both hands are free and the sun is shining on their back! The power of the outdoors is incredible!
Lawrence Rosen, MD (an integrative pediatrician and co-author of “Treatment Alternatives for Children” and founder of one of the country’s first “green” pediatric practices, The Whole Child Center, in Oradell, NJ) has compiled a compelling and scientifically supported case for sending our children outside. In 7 Science-Backed Reasons to Get Your Kids Outside (The New Nature Movement, Oct. 14, 2015), Dr. Rosen shares a solid rationale for encouraging our kids to head out the door. Below are his stated reasons (with our commentary in italics):
1. It encourages exercise. Our WeHaKee campers walk from their cabins to the dining lodge, to their activities, and throughout camp. So simply getting from one place to the next provides plenty of physical activity. And the nature of many of our activities involves physical and active movement.
2. It reduces anxiety. Moving about in the beautiful outdoor environment of WeHaKee is clearly a stress reducer for both our campers and staff. And it encourages our campers to come together in a variety of social groups, helping campers embrace a sense of belonging.
3. It improves focus. We have found that when campers are outside, their attention to the task at hand remains strong. Campers who may have trouble focusing in the school setting seem to thrive in the outdoor, camp environment!
4. It makes kids smarter. Parents often share with us how their child has done better in school after their Camp WeHaKee experience!
5. It builds a sense of community. Camp is all about community and building it in an outdoor setting is only natural. WeHaKee campers take ownership of their camp environment and make an effort to be welcoming and inclusive!
6. It helps them develop deeper connections with family. Enhancing personal independence at camp actually helps each camper develop a great appreciation and love of family when they return home. And parents report that their child’s reduced dependence on electronics and technology increased positive interactions with family.
7. It raises their interest in the environment. Experiencing nature helps build an appreciation and ownership of their outdoor world, even when they depart camp and return to their city environments. The outdoor camp experience also helps reduce their anxieties about the natural environment (i.e. bugs, animals, weather, etc.!).
As you can see, it’s only natural that the camp experience can have such a comprehensive and profound effect on the development of each child and young adult. Life is just better when one gets outside! Thanks for joining us today and have a great week!