I would like to express my concern about the potential closing of several Girl Scout camps in Iowa and Illinois. Research clearly shows that involvement in outdoor activities is associated with better physical and mental health. Children who are active in nature are less anxious, angry and depressed.
Children are losing opportunities for primary experiences, where they can see, feel, taste, hear and smell the natural world for themselves. Children who engage in rigorous exercise have lower rates of ADHD and depression, and higher academic performance.
Nature is where children can obtain multi-sensory experiences that stimulate their imagination while gaining exercise and building friendships.
I understand children’s interests are changing. However, as adults we need to lead children to the things we know are in their best interest. We want to build a generation that visits our national parks, cares about the environment and appreciates the critical balance between mankind and nature.
I would encourage the Girl Scout Council of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois to consider reducing the cost of their redesign with simple additions, such as adding cabins and flush toilets. Find church youth groups and junior and senior high school environmental clubs to use these cabins. Build incentives for local troops to utilize the camps. Seek additional grant funding.
I highly recommend books by Richard Louv and John Ratey for research on these issues. I hope these camps are available for the next generation.