08 June 2018

Learning outdoors - how camping teaches kids resilience

Posted in Camping

The speed of technology developments means that children today are growing up in a very different world to those of us who grew up 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Today children experience a technological world of ‘immediate gratification,’ one that means less time is spent in an unstructured environment, exploring, and thinking through problems. These are all things that allow us to experience failure, which is crucial in developing resilience.


There are four protective factors that support young people to grow and build resilience:


1. Time to reflect and interact

With a focus on online communication and communities, our children spend less and less time developing face-to-face social skills and thinking through problems. Why bother learning when you can Google it!


2. Unstructured play 

Our school curriculum is so full that there is simply no room for unstructured play. A child’s school program is focussed on academic performance, yet there is a mounting body of research that shows us that success requires resilience. In fact, resilience not IQ has been shown to be the best indicator of future success.


3. Limited performance pressure

Unlike school, camping take away stress, allowing kids to thrive without pressure to meet deadlines, and allowing them to be themselves.


4. Time to explore

The time for exploration is diminishing as children gravitate to technology; spending less and less time outdoors, exploring, and creating their own fun.


So how can you help children build resilience?

Dust off your tent and take the family camping. Better still, grab some friends and go together. Let the children go exploring (without their devices) and create their own fun. Let them get bored, and then problem solve creative ways to get through these feelings. If you prefer the comfort of a soft mattress on your holiday, talk to your school and make sure they find room in their program to provide a camping experience for all students.

If you haven’t already, watch this TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth on GRIT (resilience). Then, go here to learn more about our campsites at YMCA Brisbane, and how your kids can join the fun through our school-based camping programs, or vacation care!

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