Bush walking (and or hiking) is for all ages, from little babies that can be carried, toddlers who can walk and children and teens that can run! Stephen Kellert (author and Yale professor) said ‘going outdoors (in nature) is the most information rich and stimulating environment children will encounter.’ Just this week, in a radio interview on NPR, he said that ‘children now spend 52 hours a week on electronic devices and only 40 minutes a week outside’. So why should you take your children bush walking often?
1. It gets them outside. Many children are becoming more house bound. Even the backyards built on house lots today are shrinking to a piece or grass that you can’t even roll on. Getting children outside gives them fresh air, space and time to think.
2. It helps children connect with wild animals. I love going to the zoo but I would prefer to see an animal out in the wild. It’s important for children to learn about the difference between wild and captive animals and to explore the more natural habitats of wildlife.
3. Allows them to use their senses. Children will be able to hear, smell, see and feel things they haven’t before. Imagine your child hearing cicadas and birds flying past their heads, smelling the rainforest, feeling ferns, moss and river rocks and seeing an array of wild animal in front of their eyes. If you’re quiet enough, you may even spy an unsuspecting mammal!
4. Encourages them to communicate about and understand the world. When I’m bush walking I have time to think and I ask questions about our world. I notice that Miss Possum does this too but she speaks out loud and asks simple questions about the nature around her. Understanding the world helps to place where you are in it.
5. It gets the body moving. We all know it’s important to stay healthy. Going for a bush walk is great for your fitness and the best part is that it doesn’t feel like exercise!
6. It gives them the opportunity to connect with nature. Nature in a bush, rainforest or desert is so versatile. You’ll never know every plant; you’ll never know every insect. Seeing the glory that is nature drives us to connect with its beauty and understand it harshness.
7. It’s free. So often we complain that we shouldn’t go anywhere because we can’t afford it but really there’s plenty of free things we can do out in nature. We found a bush walking track only 15 minutes from our house, we didn’t even realise it was there. Find your local national park by looking online or at a local map. Most National parks are free but you may have to pay a small fee to use some of them.
8. It builds the family bond. Bush walking with your family allows you to communicate with one another more easily. You have the time to talk, it’s nice and quiet in the bush and you’re more relaxed to do so. Going on a bush walk can really bring your family together because, for that moment, you throw away the stress and live in the now.
9. It helps build lifelong skills. It teaches children to stick to the path, respect the local fauna and flora and it’s also a great place to teach teenagers survival skills and ways to not get lost.
10. Helps Save Nature and Wildlife. I’ll leave you with a quote with this point that says it all.
When did you last go bush walking?