Week of October 22, 2023 – October 28, 2023
by Tom Meier, Camp Director & Program Manager
My camera is driving me nuts. It has this fancy 45-point focus sensor doohickey complete with little red L.E.D. squares and an audible beep when it “thinks” the image is in focus. I was out with our October camp kids earlier this month taking all kinds of wonderful pictures of the campers building forts, collecting hickory nuts, and pretending rocks were cell phones where they could check in with each other and make plans for dinner.
Here’s the thing…almost every one of those pictures was out of focus. Or more accurately, the camera chose to focus on something else – like a single stick to the side or the trees in the far distance. Disappointing to say the least.
This past month, we have been talking about the many benefits of childhood connections to nature – igniting a sense of wonder, making discoveries, and the joys and growth opportunities that come with simple play. One benefit that is getting a lot of attention these days, in our hectic lives full of distractions, is an increased ability to focus. This isn’t limited to children, people of every age show an increased ability to focus after spending time outside.
We often find ourselves moving (or pulled, kicking and screaming) in so many directions that it is overwhelming. We don’t know where to start, or when to stop, we can’t seem to ever give anything the attention it deserves. Our work suffers, our family life suffers, we lose touch with friends. We are like that camera sensor hunting for something on which to focus and sometimes getting it terribly wrong.
So, let’s do ourselves a favor. Let’s go outside. Let’s step away from the noise and distractions and let the quiet of a late October day seep into our minds and bodies. Afterwards, we’ll be able to tune out the cacophony and find some focus that will benefit our work, family, friends, and our own sense of accomplishment.
If there is a lesson here, maybe it’s that I shouldn’t trust the camera to tell me what is important, I should trust myself. And so should you.
For more information about the benefits of going outside to our ability to focus, check out these links:
- Nurtured By Nature, American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature
- Nature and Mental Health, Mind.org: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/how-nature-benefits-mental-health/
- Who Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature, Child Mind Institute: https://childmind.org/article/why-kids-need-to-spend-time-in-nature/