Nature – to most of us full-time RV travelers, it is the main reason we chose this lifestyle. We sold it all, left the rat race behind, and now spend our days hiking through forests, climbing mountains, and (finally) having a chance to smell the flowers along the way. We chose to make nature our backyard for ourselves and our families, mainly because we thought it would benefit us all in some way. But just how beneficial is nature to our well-being?
According to studies, most children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years spend an average of 1.5 hours a day with electronic media, and kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 6.5 hours a day with electronic media. This is a total of more than 45 hours a week (more than a full-time job)!! Youth in this age group benefit the most from time spent outside in nature – particularly in their academic performance. A 2005 study showed that kids that participated in outdoor science classes improved their science test scores by up to 27%. Moreover, a study done by the University of Illinois showed that getting kids out into nature significantly improves symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, helps kids learn cooperation and teaches them conflict resolution skills.
Every day I see parents asking on Facebook about taking their kids on a full-time RV adventure and homeschooling them along the way. If you are in doubt, go back to the last paragraph and read it again. My husband and I chose to homeschool our high schooler through his junior and senior year, while full-time RV-ing, and I can attest to the fact that he learned more than he ever would have in the public school system. He is now an Eagle Scout, a high school graduate with a 3.2 GPA, and he will be joining the Navy within the next few months, with a plan to attend college afterwards.
Not only is getting out in nature great for our kids, but it’s very beneficial to us adult’s health as well. In a study done in the United Kingdom in 2007, it was found that adults with mental health disorders who took a walk in nature felt a reduction in depression (71%), it reduced their tension (50%) and increased their self-esteem (90%). Known as “green therapy” or “ecotheraphy”, this phenomenon is catching the attention of researchers more and more. It’s being found that this type of therapy produces more benefits than medication alone.
Health benefits aside, we are truly so blessed to be able to take our family on these adventures! I’m pretty sure my family (who go to work in the same cube every day and get 2 weeks of vacation each year) think we are insane, but I think they are! (Love you guys, but you’re insane!)
So hitch up that camper and get out in nature! Light a campfire and toast those marshmallows! Take that hike to a beautiful waterfall or to the beach! It’s good for you and good for your kids. And so much fun too!