Fighting the ‘Nature Deficit Disorder,’ Area Camp Experts Offer Local Angle on International Research
January 23, 2012
LEAKEY, Texas, Jan. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ —
WHAT/WHO The recently released fifth volume of research compiled by the Children & Nature Network continues to document the health and educational benefits of outdoor recreation for children. Central Texas camp experts from the family and youth camps of the Foundations for Laity Renewal in Leakey, Texas, confirm national findings with local experience. Arrange Interviews on Combating the 'Nature Deficit Disorder' ------------------------------------------------------------- RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS - Children with low levels of physical activity and high levels of screen time are almost two times as likely to be overweight. - Children who play more outside and watch less TV are more physically active and have lower Body Mass Indices. - Preschool children experiencing a weekly outdoor lesson show improved early literacy skills. - Direct nature experiences are important for changing environmental attitudes and behavior. - Less than 0.5% of U.S. adolescents meet nutrition, exercise and screen time recommendations. INTERNATIONAL SCOPE - In one generation, outdoor play has significantly declined for children in Australia, the United Kingdom and Norway. - Canadian children today are taller, heavier, larger and weaker than in 1981. SOURCE: Children & Nature Network http://www.childrenandnature.org/news/detail/cnn_to_release_volume_5_of_cnns_annotated_bibliographies_of_research/ LOCAL REACTION The Foundations for Laity Renewal, founded by the H.E Butt Foundation, operate youth, family and free camps and an outdoor recreation/education program from a 1,900-acre refuge along the Frio River in Leakey, Texas. Each year more than 20,000 young people enjoy the outdoors away from modern technology through the Foundation Free Camp, allowing qualified groups free use of facilities. The Family and Youth Camps also provide outdoor adventures to between 1,200 and 1,500 people each year. The Outdoor Education Program brings students from elementary to college level for two- or three-night stays at the property at no cost to the schools. In its first year, the program hosted 1,100 students. Over the lifetime of the Foundations' camping programs, some 900,000 children and adults have enjoyed outdoor experience. John Hill, Director, Laity Lodge Family Camp, Doctoral Candidate in Youth, Family and Culture On technology: "Americans' leisure time has been rising since 1960, but we see young people trending from active leisure to passive leisure-time spent on Facebook or in front of a TV as opposed to getting outdoors." On camp benefits: "Activities such as hiking and canoeing get families outside and in a shared experience. You see families come together." Kevin Mayne, Executive Director, Laity Lodge Youth Camp, 23-year veteran of youth camping and church youth work On stress and young people: "Kids are as tightly wound today as adults are. When kids come into camp, they are just like adults who go on vacation after being stressed and maxed out. They need time to decompress, and nature offers seclusion and peace from the white noise that surrounds them in the city. Green space overwhelms the white noise!" On benefits of youth camp: "With 12 buddies in a cabin, kids develop interpersonal skills. They learn to share work and responsibilities. We see healthier, stronger relationships developed face to face as compared to their somewhat virtual relationships managed through technology. At the end of a camp session, kids arrive at a place where they would trade their devices for authentic friendships." On safe risk-taking through camp activities: "Teenagers are going to take risks. At camp, kids can take risks that are safe, exhilarating and instructional. When kids accomplish the unthinkable, daring challenge, their sense of value and worth literally goes sky high. Lives change by being outdoors." Erik Silvius, Outdoor Education Coordinator, Foundations for Laity Renewal Outdoor Education Program, Masters of Science-Recreation Administration, 13 years public school experience in special education and physical education with an emphasis on outdoor recreation On the demonstrated benefits of outdoor activity: "Following up with program participants, we've seen a huge impact from just a few days of structured, fun outdoor educational and recreational activities. In particular, student relationships with teachers improve significantly. But there is test score improvement as well, especially in natural science. And program participants show more interest in continuing healthy outdoor recreation." On the benefits of structured outdoor activities: "Students rotate through a program of activities, and we see twofold benefits. Hands-on learning, aquatic studies by a river, for example, has an educational benefit. But having fun outdoors-a mountain biking session or Global Positioning System scavenger hunt-gets kids back in touch with the outdoors. That's something I think is lost these days. Many of our program participants are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have never had the chance to get out of an urban environment." PARTICIPANT REACTION A selection of quotes from participants at Laity Lodge Family Camp and the Outdoor Education Program on the benefits of the outdoor and camp experience: We "do things that we have not done before; canoeing on the Frio River together, togetherness in talk, worship and communion. Thank you!" Stephen "Looking around, seeing my family enjoy themselves. Seeing my kids have fun, especially in nature-without technology." Stephanie "Being with my family without cells, internet and TV was my favorite part-the beauty of nature and the waterfront, the slip and slide was a blast for my very little ones. So many wonderful things!" Michal "Time in nature, devotionals, not having laundry and meals to prepare." Christa "I had a deeper connection to God when away from 'life' and isolated with my family, out in nature." Tanya "As I reflect about the Science and Leadership Camp that we were so fortunate to hold at your wonderful facility, I realize that this was a life-changing experience for most of our students! This year, our fifth-graders scored higher on their November benchmark tests than in any previous year ever! The sense of community and leadership skills that were taught in October have had a lasting effect in the classroom and out. In my 20-plus years of being an educator, I can unequivocally say that this experience has been one of the highlights of my career!" Elementary School Principal THE NUMBERS - Texas Youth Camps - 541 registered with the Texas Department of State Health Services - Youth Campers Nationwide - Estimated at 5.1 million annually by the American Camp Association BACKGROUND The Children & Nature Network was founded by Richard Louv, who wrote Last Child in the Woods, credited with drawing widespread attention to children's 'nature deficit disorder,' a term Louv coined.
Learn more at: Children & Nature Network ChildrenandNature.org Laity Lodge Youth Camp LLYC.org Laity Lodge Family Camp LLFamilyCamp.org Foundation Free Camps FoundationFreeCamps.org Foundations for Laity Renewal LaityRenewal.org
For interviews, contact: Monique Sondag Monique@Lovell-Fairchild.com 214-536-4319.
SOURCE Foundations for Laity Renewal
Source: PR Newswire