Posts Tagged ‘active play’

Happy, Healthy and Moving

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Staff Gaga Ball...Practicing Best Practice!

Just yesterday, there was a piece on NPR that basically said our teenagers are getting fatter.  Based on the nation’s recognition of the childhood obesity epidemic and PSA’s from the NFL, the First Lady, and a wide variety of Sesame Street characters, our kids should be moving more right?


As the pendulum has swung, and children have been spending less and less time outdoors (this generation has spent less time in the outdoors than any generation in human history)—I will posit—that they have actually FORGOTTEN how to play.

During a recent training session with the High Trails Ridge Leaders, we actually had to look up the rules to “Kick the Can” (granted, it was because there were competing theories…and we realized it is a much easier game to play in an urban environment where there are a lot of cars and basement stairwells to hide in).  Active play has been endangered by hyper-vigilant playground monitors, fear of strangers, children’s access to and us of technology, and a lack of adults who model outdoor play.

Yet, at camp, all of that changes.  Kids walk everywhere.  They hike, they bike, they look at the stars instead of screens, they carry saddles long distances (ask any Sanborn Junior camper what is the hardest thing they do at camp and it is carrying those gigantic, awkward saddles).  It isn’t hazing, it is helping—we help these campers recognize the potential of their bodies.

Our staff are wildly active—pick-up Frisbee games after every meal, Gaga ball, riding bikes to commute to work, walking up and down the High Trails hill and back and forth from the ridges to the lodge and all of these crazy games.  During our afternoon training, our comprehensive pack-packing clinic was a bit rushed because we couldn’t stop playing games (my new personal favorite is a tag game where everyone is trying to tag everyone on the backs of their knees, and when the person who tagged you gets out, then you are back in again…ran and laughed so hard I thought I was going to throw up…which was NOT an unpleasant feeling in this case).

Adults love to run and play, too, and when we model it for our own children, students and campers…AND TEENS, we WILL help the pendulum shift back to an understanding that play might be the job of childhood, but it is a requirement of of healthy, happy adulthood, too.

Time for a Special Place: Part II

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Collecting Red Kinninnikinnik Berries

Earlier this week I attempted to share some of my New Knowledge with my sons.  Immediately after school we set out on a mission to collect natural objects in our yard in every color of the rainbow.  My five year old was tired, hungry, and cranky and refused to even leave the porch.  I lost all of my Rachel Carson Zen in a heartbeat and started to go through my Love-and-Logic-Attachment-Parenting-Wild-Thing-Management cajoling to motivate L to join us on our woodland wander.  He wasn’t having any of it.  So we left him on the porch, pouting, with the Stern Momma Tone and Look stipulation: You CANNOT go inside.

As I walked, now trying to help a two year old who doesn’t even know his colors attempt to make a rainbow, I occasionally looked back to make sure he didn’t go inside.

Yes, I did.

The ironies were piling up like the mountain of unsorted mail stuffed unceremoniously in the office cupboard.  After 20 minutes, the shadows were lengthening and I felt the evening chill beginning to descend.  I looked up and saw that L was gone…undoubtedly indoors.

Rainbow-Nature-Fairy Log Creation

When we reached the porch with our collected treasures, L came outside and looked at what we had found, then—while his brother ambled inside—we had a moment to talk.  “I don’t want to be outside, I want to play.”  As we were chatting, I stood up on a tree stump, “How many steps do you think it will take for me to get to the next stump?” I asked. “Two…giant steps…like BFG (Big Friendly Giant) steps.”  (Because I am not 25 feet tall, it took me a few more).  Then he found a stump, “Do you think I can jump onto that little one over there?”  “I don’t know….” I said, “seems pretty far too me….oh, WOW, you made it!”  This game went on for about 10 minutes—until Dad called and said it was time for dinner.

Log Jumping, Lifting, Moving...Really Playing

During dinner, we all shared our favorite parts of the day, and L said, “Playing the jumping stump game.”  At that moment, I understood that my special place in nature wasn’t necessarily one I had “discovered” all on my own as a wise, metaphor-seeking adult…I found it during the years of yard work and wheelbarrow rides, swing-sets and “underdogs”, and “do-I-really-have-to-go” and “do-we-really-have-to-leave” fishing trips with my parents.  It was the days and hours I spent, in unconscious hope, waiting (outside) for my parents to play and engage with me that engendered my love for the outdoors.

Time.  It is our most valuable resource and precious commodity.  Naturalists know this.  They measure the length and breadth of the universe in a glance of a weasel or the impact of a pesticide.  Parents know this.  They measure the length and breadth of their lives in the wonderous growth of their children.  Children know this.  They measure the length and breadth of their days in the amount of time spent playing with the people they love the most.

How to Play? Musical Instruments and Funny Hats Always Help

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.  –Rachel Carson-

Rachel Carson’s special place as an adult was the rocky coast of Maine, but—in her childhood—it was the family farm in Springdale, Pennsylvania—running and playing with her family and friends.  My special place as an adult is this 6,000 acres I call home, work, and daily life—and this special place will, in turn, be the special place of my children…as long as I take the time to make it so.

~Author’s Note~ Check out the article “Parents Are Forgetting How to Play