Saturday, April 9, 2011

The bliss of outdoor play

We're born to be connected to the earth below us and the cosmos above, and that sense of connection begins with outdoor play.

A generation or so ago, when society was less urbanized, children had a lot more space and freedom for play. They walked to school and home, and most kids played outside before and after supper.

In more northern latitudes, darkness came late and the summers brought the freedom to play later, usually until dusk fell. All we had to do was go home when our mothers called us.

With only each other and our dog for company, we walked in the woods by the river and built rafts on the creek. We walked along the railroad tracks and went fishing and climbed the local hills and mountains. We rode horses at the lake, and as our house had two wood stoves, we also chopped and carried a lot of firewood.

Though the high school was over a mile away, walking there was the norm. In the higher grades, a few kids with licenses drove to school.

Past generations of kids had fewer indoor distractions. We had no TV when I was growing up, and computers hadn't been invented. Our indoor toys were paper, pencils, crayons, paints and books. Winter was difficult not because we couldn't play outside, because we did, but because outdoor play was limited by early darkness.

Today's children live very different lives. Yet outdoor play can still provide a kind of bliss that no indoor activity ever can. It's beneficial for the brain, too.

1 comment:

  1. It seems our thoughts are following the same stream ... I have noticed that as the years pass, you don't see as many children outside engaged in free play.

    Where have all the children gone, long time passing?
    They've gone to Wii and cell phones, too.
    TV, X-Box and iPods, it's true.

    Technology is useful, but we can't forget that play and imagination are just as important as eating our veggies!