We all know I am a Camp Director, a mom, a health food advocate, a Tamakwa alumni and obviously a huge advocate for summer camp living. If you are reading this blog you clearly have some affiliation with Tamakwa as well and you have some sense for the many benefits of summer camp and Tamakwa. I could seriously write a blog every day of the year simply tackling the transformative power of summer camp for today’s youth: personal growth, independence, breaking free from technology, overcoming homesickness (I have a lot to say on this one so it might actually be a separate blog), learning to advocate for yourself, building activity skills, building communication skills, etc, etc, etc.

This Fall, it seems all the articles I’m reading are centered around the utter importance and serious decline of surrounding ourselves with Nature and the negative affects this is having on our bodies, minds and planet. A while ago I highlighted how Tamakwa combats Nature Deficit Disorder; now it appears, Tamakwa is easily implementing Forest Bathing (yes, it’s a thing and I’ll explain) and simultaneously combating the newest environmental crisis.

In 1982, Japan implemented a national public health program called Forest Bathing, which is simply a local past time of hanging out with trees or using topiary as therapy. According to author Ephrat Livni, “the Japanese practice of Forest Bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system and improve overall feelings of well-being.” Livni went on to outline an 8-year study done in Japan to examine the psychological and physiological effects of Forest Bathing and the many benefits surrounding breathing “forest air” and the various essential oils emitted naturally from trees.

Meanwhile, George Monbiot is a journalist who claims “his job is to tell people what they don’t want to hear” and a few years ago he wrote an article in The Guardian on “the remarkable collapse of children’s engagement with nature.” He outlines some pretty interesting and, quite frankly, some scary stats. Monbiot stats that “since the 1970’s, the area in which children may roam without supervision has decreased by almost 90%. As well, research conducted at the University of Illinois suggests that playing among trees and grass is associated with a marked reduction in indications of ADHD, while playing indoors or on tarmac appears to increase them.” What Monbiot, however, is most disturbed by is that those of us that truly understand and fight for the benefits of spending time in nature is slowly declining. If today’s youth spend less and less time outdoors, then fewer children will grow up to truly understand and embrace the benefits of nature which of course, in turn, means there are fewer and fewer future generations to carry on what I call, THE FIGHT FOR NATURE.

So, let’s lead our youth to nature so they grow up to be individuals that fight to preserve green space and the great outdoors. Send your children to summer camp and help foster a generation of children that understand firsthand the transformative power of being outdoors, of swimming in lakes, climbing trees, pitching a tent on a campsite, getting “woodsies” in their food on trip, and simply breathing awesome, fresh, clean, natural, brain stimulating, calming, beautiful air!

Read more about Forest Bathing and the long term hazards of the removal of children from nature and you will likely come up with the same answer as I did: we all need more time at Camp Tamakwa!

-Margot Perlmutter

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