Fridays with Franky: Play and Grow at WeHaKee!
As good as play is for me, it’s even better for our campers. Although they too enjoy that play is simply a lot of fun, it has an exceptional impact on their social skills and emotional well-being (helping them grow) – an impact to extends well beyond their WeHaKee experience!
I read a recent article on Mind/Shift about some interesting approaches to kindergarten in some other countries. I particularly liked the first three words of the article title, Let ‘Em Out! The Many Benefits of Outdoor Play In Kindergarten (you know how much I like to get outside!). The article began by discussing ‘Waldkindergartens’ which literally translates to ‘forest kindergartens’. As you can imagine, the emphasis in a waldkindergarten is to be outside most of the time. That’s a far cry from what many of our American kindergarteners are currently experiencing in our test-crazed educational culture!
The waldkindergarten idea is deeply rooted in the concept of free play and inquiry learning, where children are able to approach their natural world at their pace, nurturing a sense of innate inquisitiveness. Here is a short video (a trailer for the documentary School’s Out: Lessons From a Forest Kindergarten:
Now that may seem a bit extreme, it is clear the children are engaged in learning, exploring, and growing! And that is something we see all the time at Camp WeHaKee. Being outside and being active is absolutely crucial for the comprehensive growth and development of every child. In addition to the positive impact outside play has for social interaction and emotional well-being, it also helps children and youth develop their gross motor skills which lead to improved fine motor abilities as well. The benefits are endless!
Children who experienced more undirected free play
showed signs of stronger executive function,
a strong predictor of success in school.
“The more time that children spent
in less-structured activities,
the better their self-directed executive functioning.”
A recent study by psychologists at the University of Colorado
For those who might scoff at a camp experience as being trivial, unimportant, or not beneficial to the future of the child – they should think again! A child’s comprehenisive growth and development is critically in need of outdoor play experiences. Yes, a WeHaKee experience is so much fun… and SO much more! Have fun growing at WeHaKee!