Children Need to be Set Free to Grow Up Healthy

When it comes to taking care of the Earth and playing in the mud children need little persuading.

Children are growing up in a world that is increasingly sanitary and hooked on technology. Are you worried about the effect this is having on the environment? How about the potential negative effects for future generations? We are too and there’s something you can do about it – and it doesn’t come with a price tag like expensive extra-curricular activities and sports clubs often do. It’s called setting them free!

For most of human history we ran, climbed, jumped, squatted, turned dirt over, planted seeds and saplings, took in Vitamin D from the sun, heard bird calls, crossed rivers and travelled long distances by foot. But in the last fifty years, we’ve lost this. This modern abandonment of nature has been described by American writer Richard Louv as ‘nature deficit disorder’ in his 2005 best-seller ‘The Last Child in the Woods’, and yet schools introduce technology at earlier and earlier ages, whilst the number of children gaining the lifelong benefits from nature is decreasing.

Another term Louv talks about is ‘ecophobia’, children being overwhelmed with anxieties when it comes to the environment, none of which instils in them an affinity for the natural world – which is a part of who we are. Louv summarised that children who do play outside are less likely to get sick, to be stressed or become aggressive, and are more adaptable to life’s unpredictable turns. If we want children to grow up to become resilient, independent adults we need to start encouraging children to spend more time outside enjoying the fields, parks, and woodlands that are right on their doorstep.

We all have a back garden in which we can get youngsters involved with a gardening project. Sowing seeds and watching them grow into plants is a satisfying and fun activity you can do with your children. As humans, we have a subconscious connection with nature and small acts like gardening can have a tremendous downstream effect on our overall health.

Just looking at nature, even in a photo can give your brain a mental boost. Biologist EO Wilson wrote about the term Biophilia, which he describes as ‘the innate pleasure from living abundance and diversity as manifested by the human impulse to imitate Nature with gardens’. Scientists have looked at the reaction the brain has when viewing nature, especially fractals; which are nature’s patterns, like branching trees, snowflakes, waves, and the structure of the human eye. The results confirm nature’s soothing effect. An EEG was able to measure subject’s frontal lobes, which more easily produced feel-good alpha brainwaves leading to a wakefully relaxed state when looking at nature photography. The best thing is that it costs nothing to set our children free and we all have gardens, small parks, scrublands and woodlands to get them outside making their own fun.

At Epworth Fields Holiday Park we run a number of children’s nature workshops with the aim of giving children positive outdoor experiences that build self esteem and confidence, supporting children to enjoy and appreciate the natural environment.

If you are going on your summer holidays and want to connect with nature in a safe environment with your family, we operate a sustainably run Holiday Park with 12.5 acres of private land including woods that allows children to explore nature together in safety and make their own fun.

It’s our mission to [1] help your family to unplug from modern stresses and technology, [2] reconnect with loved ones and create lasting memories, and [3] recharge yourself.

If you’re planning a vacation come out here and try it. Set your children free and let them grow wild.





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