British Columbia

Don't let rainy fall weather stop your children going outside, says wilderness instructor

As the end of summer inches closer, a Chilliwack wilderness instructor is stressing the need for children to continue playing outside, especially when the weather cools off.

Long-time outdoor children instructor is worried by sedentary lifestyle of youth

Wildness instructor Jim Flom says rain is an easy obstacle to overcome, if you have the resolve to spend more time outside with your children. (Sunny studio / Shutterstock)

As the end of summer inches closer, a Chilliwack wilderness instructor is stressing the need for children to continue playing outside, especially when the weather cools off.

"There's so many benefits, cognitively, emotionally, psychosocially to being in nature," said Outward Bound Canada wilderness instructor Jim Flom. 

Outward Bound Canada is a non-profit organization that offers training courses on wilderness activities. Flom also works with special needs students in the Chilliwack School District.

"You spend five minutes in nature and it has a positive effect on the human brain."

Flom said he's observed a decline in the amount of time children spend outside. He said people's growing affinity with electronics, especially children, has led to more sedentary lifestyles.

"If we just unplug a little bit, and join our kids outside, then we're active and there are so many life lessons that can be learned from that," said Flom.

'Spectatoritis'

Flom is an admirer of Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn and notes that Hahn coined the term 'spectatoritis' to explain the prevalence of sedentary behaviours.

"Spectatoritis means we prefer to watch," said Flom. "So many of us are spectators."

Flom said many of the children he works with are more concerned with playing video games, particularly Fortnite, than being outside — and its becoming more common among adults in his mind as well.

"So many of us would rather watch a sport than do a sport, we'd rather watch TV than be on TV."

Flom suggests parents can get their children to be active by going outside with them and leading by example. Both structured and unstructured time outside can be hugely educational, he said. Bad weather can easily be used as an excuse to not go outside, but Flom said rain is a simple obstacle to tackle.

"We have as many excuses as we want," he said. "But if we have a strong desire and the resolve to do it, I believe those barriers can be overcome."

With files from BC Today

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Jim Flom is a presenter for AdventureSmart who worked with the founder of Outward Bound. In fact, he is an Outward Bound wilderness instructor.
    Aug 19, 2019 7:52 PM PT

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