Camping 101 Fights Nature-Deficit Disorder

Feeling irritable? We recommend the outdoors.

Erik Tormoen

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Nature-deficit disorder is a behavioral condition hypothesized by author Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, in which he suggests that separation from nature results in “diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illness.” Earlier this month, Texas Parks and Wildlife took up the concept with a Camping 101 workshop for families.

“There are studies out there that say kids spend about 7 hours a day with computers and television and only about 7 minutes outside playing,” said Robert Owen, a ranger with the Parks and Wildlife’s Texas Outdoor Family Program. “They might have soccer practice or something like that, but just being outside and being a kid is not that common anymore.”

Owen chalks up a lack of family-oriented camping to nature-deficit disorder as well. During the workshop, held October 4, an experienced staff assisted families with camping basics to ensure quality bonding.

“Only around 35 percent of state park visitors are actually bringing their kids to the park with them,” Owen told the El Paso Times. “That’s one of the big things the Texas Outdoor Family is trying to turn around.”

According to Louv’s 2012 book, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, a dose of the outdoors is not just children’s medicine; adults should try to get out more, too.

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