Different families have different barriers to going outdoors. Some families might lack confidence in taking their children in nature, worry about safety issues, don’t know where to go, can’t fit the outdoors into their schedule, or are uneasy about the weather (Cronin-de-Chavez et al. 2019). San Diego has a bounty of resources to help guide families to have a great time outside no matter their comfort level. Families can find a experts to lead the way, other families to be the example, or classes to help learn to love the freedom of exploration.
Use these resources to find ways you and your family can connect with nature together. There are many options for different age groups, activity levels, structure, location, and more. Look at what opportunities are offered around San Diego and try a few out.
Why connect your family with nature?
Children have better physical health, mental health, cognitive abilities, self-control, imagination, empathy for other species, and connection to the environment when they spend more time in nature (Chawla, 2015). American doctors are starting to prescribe outdoor nature activities to their young patients to improve abilities to pay attention, regulate stress, and decrease childhood obesity (McCurdy et al. 2010). Helping children to be comfortable with nature can give them lifelong benefits.
Adults that spend time outdoors in green space find that disease affects them less and can possibly contribute to a longer life (Haluza et al. 2014).
Families who go on outdoor adventures make memories together that they can recall to foster bonding (Pomfret & Varley, 2019). Going into nature as a family can benefit our natural world too. When families are in nature, adults have the opportunity to model caring for the natural world including wildlife and conservation actions (D’Amore & Chawla, 2018).
Chawla, L. (2015). Benefits of nature contact for children. Journal of Planning Literature, 30(4), 433-452.
D’Amore, C., & Chawla, L. (2018). Significant life experiences that connect children with nature: A research review and applications to a family nature club. Research Handbook on Childhoodnature: Assemblages of Childhood and Nature Research, 1-27.
Cronin-de-Chavez, A., Islam, S., & McEachan, R. R. (2019). Not a level playing field: A qualitative study exploring structural, community and individual determinants of greenspace use amongst low-income multi-ethnic families. Health & place, 56, 118-126.
Haluza, D., Schönbauer, R., & Cervinka, R. (2014). Green perspectives for public health: A narrative review on the physiological effects of experiencing outdoor nature. International journal of environmental research and public health, 11(5), 5445-5461.
McCurdy, L. E., Winterbottom, K. E., Mehta, S. S., & Roberts, J. R. (2010). Using nature and outdoor activity to improve children’s health. Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care, 40(5), 102-117.Pomfret, G., & Varley, P. (2019). Families at leisure outdoors: well-being through adventure. Leisure studies, 1-15.