Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’

Of sports and such

I joined a rec league beach volleyball team this year. I’m having a lot of fun at it and this is presenting a dilemma for me – I’ve been a pretty strong opponent of organized sports the last few years because of the research out there that shown they rob kids of the ability to learn to play. That doesn’t mean that I’m anti-sport, I’m just not convinced that signing your kids up for league team sports are the way to go.

Instead, I think that there is tremendous value in kicking around a soccer ball with your kids in the local park, making up rules and developing a culture where playing outdoors in an unstructured way is a part of your lives.

I think that rec leagues are a part of that. As long as kids aren’t organized every time that they play, there probably isn’t much harm in them. I’m still not sure that they are a good idea for five year olds, but my mind is opening a bit.

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Summer is here!

The first day of summer is here!

School will soon be out and kids everywhere will be heading to summer camps and other things that parents have signed them up for to provide child care while they are out of school. Many parents have taken some kind of summer vacation but, our system isn’t really set up for that. Most people get only three weeks of vacation time a year which doesn’t really coincide with the eight weeks most kids get off.

So, off the kids go to various summer camps, day camps, hockey lessons (I still don’t quite get those in the summer) and, more often than not, to their basements to play video games.

Let’s focus on the positive for a few moments though, shall we? Finding the right summer camp. I should let’s you know that I’m in the summer camp business, there’s your disclaimer, so I’m really biased to my type of camp. But here are the things that you should be looking for in a nature based summer camp:

First, it should focus on nature. When I look at the average camp brochure these days, I notice that a lot of them are computer camps, sports camps and sometimes even fitness camps. A nature based camp will focus on games and learning about nature. Ask the camp director what sorts of activities your children will be doing. If all you hear are soccer, canoeing and games and there is nothing about free time with nature, look elsewhere.

Next, it should be in a natural area. While I think there is value in the community based day camp, if it doesn’t go to at least a natural park, it’s not going to expose your kids to nature.

Finally, residential camps are better than day camps, especially for o Oder kids. Day camps don’t offer the chance for kids to learn about stars, experience sleeping in a tent or really internalize the nature experience. They’re good if nothing else is available, but they’re not as good.

Please, if you get a chance, send your kids to camp. There are few experiences that are as transformative as a good summer camp experience. Plus, it will give your family something to chat about around the campfire.