“Everybody needs body as well as bread; places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

-John Muir

What are life’s necessities?  Food, water, shelter, sleep…these are the things that many of us think of when we think of what we need to survive.  Personally, I would add the outdoors to my necessity list. 

As kids, my sisters and I were always sent outside to play.  We usually whined about it before finally making some sort of compromise with our parents.  My parents would also tell me to go outside when I was grumpy or just having a rough day.  I always doubted that this would improve my mood at all.  Now as an adult, I find myself in the habit of going outside to get fresh air whenever I’m in need of a break or a mood boost. 

Did you know kids between the ages of 8-18 spend (on average) 53 hours a week on entertainment media?  And only 6% of kids go out to play on their own.  That’s 94% of kids that just need a little nudge to head out.  Research has shown spending time in the outdoors has wonderful health benefits including:

·       Increases vision

o   Being outside increase a person’s ability to see far distances because the artificial light that is found in our houses and workplaces can provoke nearsightedness.

·       Increases Vitamin D intake

o   The necessary daily intake of vitamin D cannot be taken from food alone, which is one of the reasons the sun is so important.  Even on a cloudy day, the sun is radiating some awesome UVB rays which help us get our vitamin D.

·       Increases motor skills (agility, balance, coordination)

o   Many activities that increase kid’s gross motor skills take place outside, riding a bike, playing on a playground, participating in group games, etc.

·       Improves your mood

o   Ultraviolet rays are typically looked down on because they can cause skin cancer, however if you’re using sunscreen and limiting your time in direct sunlight, then those rays can have some serious health benefits.  The Vitamin D we take from the sun, boosts our serotonin levels which are great for our mood. 

So, there are a lot of reasons to be outside.  But how does this relate to our walk with God?  I know that in my life, I have often felt the closest to God when I am outside.  I find that when I am able to disconnect from social media, politics, my peers, I am able to talk to God and spend some very real quality time with Him. 

Luke 5:16 (ESV) says “But He would withdraw to desolate places to pray.”  In other versions of the Bible “desolate places” is translated to “wilderness” or “lonely places.”  Jesus regularly chose complete solitude with God, He could not live without it.  Being completely alone with God gives us an opportunity to hear what God is trying to tell us or be reminded of something He has already said. 

This is one of the main reasons I believe in camp.  I believe in camp because it encourages kids to spend time in creation- with God.  Campers have the opportunity to be disconnected from their daily lives while strengthening or discovering their relationships with God.  And they are receiving awesome health benefits from too!

There is so much to be gained from time in nature, but that time seems harder to find now more than ever.  With the pressure of success at work and school, the rise of social media and the amount of entertainment we have constantly at our fingertips, it is often easier to stay inside.  I challenge you to get out this week.  I encourage you to disconnect and spend some time with God in the beauty of His creation.

THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR CAMPERS

Take a hike, throw a Frisbee, sit in a hammock, have a Bible study or have a picnic!

Snow Paint!  Mix some food coloring in with the snow and have a blast!

Comment