Improved creativity, focusing on the present moment through mindfulness, increased confidence, enhanced mental health—these are just a few of the incredible benefits getting outdoors can offer to both kids and adults. But what if simply going out in nature at a young age actually had an impact on how our brains develop? You may want to think twice about cancelling your plans to go on that hike with your child because it turns out that outdoor experiences do have a profound effect on brain development in several ways.
What does it mean to be creative? It means breaking rules to create something new and unique. Through exploration and discovery, we learn and see new things, causing our creativity to flourish. And what better place to explore and discover than the outdoors? The outdoors give us a release, allowing our imaginations to soar as we leave the four walls surrounding us and step into a lawless wilderness. The outdoors do not possess rules. Animals fight and frolic as they need and trees grow and sway—sometimes not even in tune with the basic laws of gravity. When we step outside to explore the world around us, we are physically and mentally free from the distractions of technology and today’s demanding world. As you step away from your daily life distractions, you can fully embrace the new and old sights, sounds, and smells around you to awaken your creative, right side of the brain.
Topics: Benefits of Outdoor Adventure
One of the most valuable moments we introduce to kids at camp is one of mindfulness. We plan our hike days to include silent hikes, where they are encouraged to temporarily leave conversations and focus on the sounds, smells and scenery of the trail. On rock climbing day, we ask them to check in to feel and notice their excitement or nervousness before getting on the wall. We encourage brief periods of silence while kids are on the water so they may observe their surroundings. These moments are invaluable because we teach kids to slow down and take in the present moment—techniques which they can take back into their daily lives where there are constant sources of distraction.
Chances are, you or someone you know has struggled with a form of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems at some point in life. According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), 18.8% of adults aged 18 and older in the U.S. experience anxiety disorders every year (that’s about 40 million).1 The ADAA also notes that approximately 6.7% of adults experience depression in the U.S. each year (about 16.1 million) and as many as 322 million people live with depression worldwide.2