There are hundreds of choices for a family outdoor activity. We take a look at some of the unique benefits of a Wild Camping Experience for parents and children alike.
Relaxing for Parents, Fulfilling for Families
Wild Camping is an opportunity to spend time as a family in nature. There’s something quite unique about family time together in a natural environment. Research by Dina Izenstark and Aaron Ebata at the University of Illinois describes the feeling of mental relief for a parent watching their children play in nature – allowing them to stay in charge but accompanied by a sense of ‘letting go’ not experienced at home.
The feeling of fulfilment is theorised to come from the increased focus on yourself and others while Wild Camping. Izenstark and Ebata’s research suggests that when attention is restored in a natural setting, a family unit is able to pick up on each other’s social cues and become closer.
Families can find it easier to bond over activities like mealtimes in the outdoors
Over 80% of parents in a recent Sport England survey state that ‘children get less exercise today because parents are afraid to let them go outside alone, particularly their daughters.
Research by Play England points out that although 70% of adults had their most memorable childhood adventures in outdoor spaces among trees, rivers and woods, only 29% of children today can say the same, with most young people naming the playground as the setting for their biggest adventures. The Director of Play England, Adrian Voce, shows how the research indicates this is largely due to risk averse parenting.
Light bushcraft skills can build confidence in a risk-managed environment
Wild Camp experience is a managed risk introduction to outdoor adventure. It is just far enough removed from the everyday to make a lasting impression and facilitate a memorable adventure, yet it remains a safe and controlled environment.
Activities are designed to be challenging and adventurous, yet safe. Learning and exploration is facilitated by Institute of Outdoor Learning qualified guides. Risk is not completely absent, but properly managed and children are encouraged to experiment and explore.
When children are helped and allowed to experience risk, even in a semi-controlled way, it helps develop their ability to deal with it and builds self-confidence. It encourages them to think for themselves and develops their resilience.
Good Habits for Life
Outdoor activities are fun and there are so many to choose from, but after the thrill of the action you may be wondering what lasting effect those experiences will have on your children, and yourself! Time in ‘green spaces’ such as the woodland setting of our wild camp have been shown to have a profound, long lasting effect on a person’s relationship with the outdoors.
A study by Aspinall, Montarzino & Thompson from Heriott-Watt University has shown a strong relationship between frequent childhood visits and being prepared to visit woodlands or green spaces alone as an adult. By contrast, not visiting as a child was associated with a very low likelihood of later adult visits.
According to Sport England research, parents of children who are active outdoors are twice as likely to become active themselves. Similarly, the children of parents who are active outdoors are twice as likely to become active themselves.
Several studies cited in a recent Natural England report suggest that people enjoy physical activities more when undertaken in greener environments. The evidence shows that people were more satisfied following physical activities in the outdoors (compared to indoors) and reported a greater intention to repeat the activity in future.
So if being more physically active is a goal for you and the family, Wild Camping in a natural environment is likely to foster a long-term love of the outdoors and an active lifestyle.