Back to Our Roots: How Nature Play has Been Fuelling Young Imaginations for Centuries
Children playing in the forest and nature, camping and exploring, is not a new phenomenon but a long-standing tradition. Children have spent time outdoors, playing and learning about the natural world for centuries. In literature, we can see evidence of this in classic works such as Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In this novel, Huck Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer embark on a journey down the Mississippi River, experiencing the natural world in all its glory. Their adventures in nature, whether navigating rapids, hunting for food or camping in the wilderness, are a testament to the enduring appeal of outdoor exploration for children.
In the early 20th century, the popularity of youth camping and outdoor education snowballed, with organizations such as Scouts and Girl Guides promoting the benefits of spending time in nature. These organizations provided children with opportunities to learn practical skills such as knot-tying, fire-building, and map-reading, as well as fostering leadership and teamwork skills. This emphasis on outdoor education and experiential learning paved the way for the growth of summer camps and other programs designed to help children connect with nature and develop a lifelong love of the outdoors.
While spending time in nature may seem simple, it offers numerous benefits for children. It provides a space for them to engage in unstructured play, which fosters creativity, imagination, and social skills. It also encourages physical activity and helps to reduce stress, which in turn can lead to improved mood and cognitive function. Moreover, exposure to nature can instil a sense of wonder and awe in children, helping them to develop a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the natural world.
Mark Twain once said, “In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” This quote highlights the ever-changing and unpredictability of nature. Children who spend time in the great outdoors develop a deep appreciation for this variability and learn to adapt to changing conditions. In addition to promoting physical health and well-being, outdoor exploration and camping provide children with a sense of wonder and awe and practical skills and knowledge that can serve them well throughout their lives. Explore our range of toys that encourage outdoor play and foster a love for spending time outside.
In today’s world, where children are increasingly glued to screens and technology, encouraging outdoor play and exploration is more important than ever. This can be achieved through various means, from simple outdoor activities like hiking and playing in the garden to more structured programs like summer camps and outdoor education initiatives. By providing children with opportunities to engage with nature, we can help to foster a love for the outdoors, promote physical and mental health, and develop the skills and knowledge needed to navigate and appreciate the natural world. So let’s encourage our children to put down their devices and step outside to explore the wonders of nature.