Sites and Activities

Why We Need To Go Outside

By Stacie Hoppman July 1, 2020

We’ve noticed an interesting trend at camp the last few years. More and more kids are showing up at the health center complaining of these strange, itchy, red bumps. It is the first time in their life that they have encountered a mosquito bite. It’s a new phenomenon for them that inspires alarm and is met with reassurance from our nurse that it will eventually stop itching and disappear.

For generations, kids roamed the neighborhoods and explored the world around them. When you got a mosquito bite, you marked it with an “X” using your fingernail and tried not to scratch. It was a rite of passage, a sign of summer nights spent among the trees and beneath the stars. So why are kids now showing up at the health center, worried about these red bites? As a society, we’ve begun to retreat inside. We’ve locked the mosquitos outside and settled indoors.

Summer camp may be the only time a child has spent a significant amount of time outdoors. It is the first time they have hiked a trail, felt the mud squish beneath their feet after a rain, watched the treetops wave in the wind, listened to the hooting of an owl, or observed a deer drinking from the pond in the stillness of the morning.

There are so many things to discover and experience in our world, but God’s creation should be at the top of our list. Here are just a few of the benefits that having regular experiences in nature can bring:

  1. There is something about the outdoors that causes our bodies to relax and de-stress. Especially now, during a pandemic, we need healthy ways to reduce the stress and anxiety in our lives. A walk outside can do just that. Even looking out the window can be enough to help you relax.
  2. Do you ever have that feeling that your brain is tired? Both kids and adults can experience mental fatigue. Long hours sitting at a desk with intense focus can make you feel tired, even though you’ve hardly moved that day. Taking a break in a restorative environment like the great outdoors is a great way to regain some of your mental energy. It’s like a small vacation for the mind.
  3. Beautiful outdoor environments tend to inspire feelings of awe and amazement. As Christians, we know that the world around us was created and designed by our Creator. Connecting with the outdoors, especially places and moments of particular beauty, inspire worship and wonder, and draw us into the heart of God.

What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been to? What scenes of beauty have you encountered? When you are feeling overly stressed or weary this season, take a moment to head outside. Get up and watch the sunrise. Take a walk through a forest. Watch a spider spin a web. Step into the wonder of God’s world and enjoy each part of it—even the mosquito bites!