Play is the Medicine Man

According to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 16,000 citizens, some 200 health and youth-related organizations, and the National Wildlife Federation recently petitioned US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin to promote outdoor recreation and make it a priority during her tenure.

Two things caught my eye about this article: the fact that the Surgeon General has now usurped the role of your mother ("get outside and don't come back until dinner's ready!"), and that the National Wildlife Federation, of all organizations, would join in to petition to encourage outdoor recreation.  But then again, that makes perfect sense. For the majority of our existence on earth, where have we lived? Certainly not indoors, with a remote control in our hand.

One of the most engaging writers out there who takes on the question of humans, movement and our relationship with our environment is writer and "Chief Creative Officer" of  Exuberant Animal, Frank Forencich.  He believes that humans, like it or not, exist in cooperation with our environment and the earth. For millennia we had a sense of tribal community and adapted to a predator-rich environment. This sharpened our wits, strengthened our bodies, and honed our awareness of our surroundings. It was eat or be eaten (generally speaking). This constant vigilance and need to be increasingly more creative in securing food and survival made our brains grow and develop. The earth, in a sense, was and still is, an extension of our own bodies.

So what does this have to do with kids and outdoor activity?

Our most primal learning tool is PLAY. You don't believe me? Check out this incredible video.  Humans, like animals, learn to interact socially, pick up cues about body language and facial expression, strengthen our bodies, hone our balance and roll play - all through play.
Play makes you smarter.
Play is simple.
Play encourages laughter. (Who doesn't want that?)
Play stimulates problem solving and creativity.
Play builds strong bodies and even stronger brain synapses.
Play is cathartic.
Play keeps you young, no matter how old you are.
Play heals.
Play reminds you that you are the master of your own body.
Play takes you outdoors so you can feel the elements against your skin.
Play reminds you of your own power.
Children, when given a choice, will choose play over just about anything. It is primal and natural, and it's what they do best and how they learn.
Get outdoors, be exuberant, be an animal!