Before my son was born, my vision for my family was always outdoors. I wanted to be fishing, hunting, or camping. This list could go on for days. I just wanted to experience our lives outside where I feel most at home. There are also limitless lessons I wanted my kid(s) to learn while being outside. That goes for me as well. I know there are all kinds of things that I can learn and experience from being outdoors as well.
I just finished Steve Rinella’s new book, “Outdoor kids In An Inside World”, so the eagerness to get my family outdoors has now grown to new levels. So of which I have not thought about. I always focused on big hunts or fishing events, but the crucial moments for an outdoor family are the small detailed moments we tend to pass over almost every day. Those small experiences are moments like identifying different trees on an evening walk or finding different animal scat while headed out to the tree stand. These small moments create the foundation of being an outdoorsman and often the foundation of many life skills.
Why Get Your Family Outdoors?
The mental health benefits of being outdoors have been studied and proven. In the example below, 900,000 kids ranging from newborn to 10 years old were used for the study.
“They found that children who lived in neighborhoods with more green space had a reduced risk of many psychiatric disorders later in life, including depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and substance use disorder. For those with the lowest levels of green space exposure during childhood, the risk of developing mental illness was 55% higher than for those who grew up with abundant green space” (Engemann, K., et al., PNAS, Vol. 116, No. 11, 2019). 55% is a huge number! As a parent, it’s our job to protect our children, and protecting their mental health is the number one priority. Take your kids outside!
Being Outdoors doesn’t just benefit kids, though. My wife and I prioritize our time outside. Sometimes its the whole family. Sometimes we are alone, but getting outside at least once a day for a small period of time has value. And I don’t mean just walking to your car. I understand that it in not always pleasant outside. I have spent my fair share of days sweating my ass off while completing a task, working out, or spending time with friends and family.
Most recently, I spent about a month in North Dakota during January. I can promise you that it was not pleasant being outside there during the winter. I was in the middle of a program that required you to spend at least 45 minutes working out outside, so I spent some quality time up there with my teeth chattering because I was so cold, but it was worth it! Every time I got back inside from my outdoor workout I felt so much better than I did before. It was negative 29 degrees the day I left to come home.
For families to reap the benefits of being outdoors, its our job our leaders of the family to show the value in being outdoors. Now if you tell you kids a story about mental health and how the outdoors can improve it, they’re going to look at you like you’re crazy. But if you show them how to use their imagination outside or some small cool tricks on how to skip a rock across a body of water, then they will see the value of being outdoors for you and for them.
There are 100’s of other reasons to get your family outside and away from an electronic screen. Go out and experience them yourself. I also highly recommend the book “Outdoor Kids In An Inside World” by Steven Rinella. I have been following him for a few years now after I heard him on the Joe Rogan Experience. It seems as if he has lived through three full lives worth of outdoors stories.
Getting your family outdoors doesn’t end when vacation rolls around. Be sure to check out this link on being outdoors while on vacation.