Help our children enjoy the great outdoors

A flier for a summer camp recently came across our desks, and the advertisement contained a few statistics that were eye-opening, to say the least.
Jan 21, 2013


According to this particular camp, the average kid spends 51 minutes outdoors a week. That’s less than an hour of unstructured play time out in the fresh air (we assume this doesn’t include recess time at school).

At the same time, kids spend an average of 623 minutes a week in front of a computer, 833 minutes playing video games and 2,121 minutes watching television.

The selling point for this summer camp is that, in a week’s time, kids who attend will spend 3,600 minutes outdoors — and exactly zero in front of a TV, a computer, a gaming system or a cellphone.

But we shouldn’t need to ship our kids off to summer camp to get them to enjoy the great outdoors.

We remember, as kids, getting booted outside on a daily basis. And the crazy thing is, we had more fun playing games and sports, building forts, riding bikes, splashing through puddles, and searching for bugs than we ever did cooped up inside.

Maybe if we had Xbox’s and iPads 30 years ago, things would be different.

Still, it’s a sobering statistic that our children are becoming so disconnected with the natural world around them. They’re learning about the great outdoors by looking things up on Google instead of wandering around the neighborhood exploring for themselves.

We realize that things will never be like they once were. Technology has us hurtling through life at a pace unlike anything previous generations ever experienced.

That’s why it’s so important for us, and for our children, to take every opportunity we can find to slow down, to get outside and to enjoy the world in which we live.

If simply kicking your kids outside doesn’t work, then come up with creative ways to get them excited about being outdoors.

Take them to a park or a preserve and go for a nature walk. While you’re out there, pay special attention to everything around you, and make it a learning experience for the kids.

If your children develop a love for the natural world, then they’ll be much more likely to spend more time outdoors.

It’s up to us — as parents, grandparents, guardians and caregivers — to direct our children onto a healthy, wholesome path in life. Spending 4,000 percent more time in front of the TV than outdoors isn’t accomplishing that task.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Nothing to say but...Amen!


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