Are you from the generation that remembers when a stick became a sword, a pile of blankets became a fort, and an afternoon outside meant an epic adventure to far distant places? If you are, it can be hard to stomach the constant need for technology that today’s youth seem to have. It can be disheartening to see a 12 year old curled up on the couch with his iPod in hand and headphones in his ears on a gorgeous and sunny summer afternoon. Even more disheartening is when you wrench the headphones from his ears and tell him to go outside and play, and the response you get is, “Outside? Now? It’s so boring out there!”
A 2010 Kaiser Foundation Study found that children and teens are, on average, spending seven hours and 58 minutes on entertainment media each day. That’s over 53 hours a week! The truth is, technology is here to stay and your kids love of it isn’t going to dim anytime soon. But, fear not weary parents – we have some ideas on how to break that reliance and expose your children to the dreaded “outdoors”.
A weekend of family camping is at the top of our technology-busting list, and for good reason. By taking the kids away from their electronic habitat, you’re removing them from their familiar routine. Over the course of your camping adventure, they’ll be able to focus on exploring the world around them and getting hands-on with nature. Since children tend to be curious creatures who bore easily (especially when they reach teenager status), you can play upon that personality trait to get them outside, get them moving, and keep them happy.
One of the greatest and lasting rewards of a weekend of camping is the memories that your family will carry with them forever. My family used to do quite a bit of summertime camping, and many decades later (but not too many), those camping weekends form some of my fondest childhood memories. Now that I’m a mom of teenage boys, it puts a smile in my heart when my boys run out the door with their hammocks, backpacks, and fishing poles for a day of adventure.
If you aren’t a camping type of family, then you can still encourage (or in my case “trick”) your children into spending more time outdoors and away from their X-Box. All it took for our family was for our boys and their friends to get a couple of hammocks. Before I knew it, they were heading out to the lake or the local bluff with not only their hammocks, but fishing poles, backpacking equipment, and even assorted survival gear. Of course, they bring their phones and iPods along and text me pictures, but that’s the kind of technology I DON’T mind!
JM Cremps carries a full assortment of outdoor camping and hiking gear for children of all ages. Find the ideal outdoor gift for the child in your life here: You can also find several ideas for camping fun and outdoor activities for children on this blog.