After nearly 2 years of virtual and hybrid learning, isolation and continued uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term impacts are emerging for youth, including an increase in depression and anxiety.
According to National Wildlife Federation’s GreenHour.org, time spent outdoors in nature for American kids has decreased by more than 50%, on average. Meanwhile, time spent inside and plugged into electronic media has stretched to more than six hours per day.
“Boys and Girls Clubs have long incorporated social recreation as a vehicle to enhance young people's physical and emotional well-being.” says Laura Gover, Senior Director of Youth Development Programs. “We understand the restorative power that nature provides and how it can facilitate opportunities for young people to better cope with challenging experiences in their daily lives.”
It can be downright difficult to get kids motivated to get outside, especially after the habit-changing behavior of the COVID-19 pandemic and with colder temperatures creeping in. So how do you help the kid in your life step away from the screens and build some healthy habits outdoors?
Ideas for Getting Kids Outdoors this Winter
Here are some fun ideas to get your “indoor” kid to fall in love with the outdoors again this winter. For the Kid who likes AmongUs
We paired up some of today’s most popular video games with some fun outdoor activities, thanks to our partners at L.L.Bean and their partnership with the National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour initiative.
or playing games with friends – get outside and make some favorite board games out of natural objects, like rocks, pinecones, sticks, or seeds. Pull 20 pieces together to make your own Tic-Tac-Toe. Get creative and paint game pieces into two different colors.
For the Kid who likes MarioKart
and feeling the need for speed – Did you know...National Kite Flying Day is in February? It may seem strange, but windy winter weather is perfect for flying kites. So, bundle up, grab a kite and some friends, and feel the wind on your face to determine which way the wind is blowing.
For the Kid who loves AnimalCrossing
and building nurturing communities for their animal friends – try an early bird observation of Crepuscular animals, which are most active at twilight to avoid predators. Make sure to be as quiet as possible and look high and low to find them before they sneak off to hiding places for the day.
For the Kid who loves Minecraft
and building – make a leaf maze by gathering as many leaves as you can find. Draw and design your maze. Make sure to include lots of turns and dead-ends and don’t forget to invite friends to test the maze out with you!
For the Kid who loves Pokémon GO
and looking down to find clues – try looking up and stargazing for a constellation scavenger hunt. Did you know that many constellations are in the shapes of animals? How many can you find? Jot them down in a journal to compare to other seasons.
Find additional outdoor activities for all seasons here
“If the past year and a half of increased screen time has taught us anything, it is that the outdoors can have a remarkable impact on our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.” says Kayla Quint, Senior Partnership Marketing Planner for L.L.Bean. “We’re incredibly proud to partner with Boys and Girls Clubs to create repeat and positive outdoor experiences for children across the country, all with the goal of fostering an appreciation of the outdoors and its restorative benefits.”
In partnership with L.L.Bean, Boys & Girls Clubs of America believes in the power of the outdoors to support both physical and emotional well-being. Thanks to L.L. Bean, together we are developing an Outdoor Recreation Playbook for Clubs that emphasizes the importance of social recreation through outdoor experiences. To learn more about this partnership, click here
When young people build outdoor recreation skills and healthy habits, they get in touch with the world around them, creating lifelong coping strategies that support their overall wellbeing and mental health.
Learn more about how Boys & Girls Clubs support the health and wellness of millions of young people each year through programming that supports mental health, nutrition, physical activity and more