It's no secret that today's youth are more likely to spend time inside plugged into electronic games than kids of past generations. As more research continues to come out detailing why it's so important for youngsters to engage in outdoor play
, many summer programs, like the Boulder Creek Camp Joy Gardens, are working to help children develop a bond with nature.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports the camp, set in the mountains of Boulder Creek in Santa Cruz, California, is a place where children can learn how to farm and see the environment around them thrive with their help. Youngsters who attend gain a variety of experiences including milking goats, collecting chicken eggs, picking fresh peaches and nectarines straight off of trees and learning how to grow certain plants. The 4.5-acre nonprofit organic farm is the perfect place for kids ages 5 to 8 to roam around, learning how to pick summer squash onions and kale as well as watering beautiful blossoms like sunflowers and morning glories.
The six-person staff on the grounds runs educational programs throughout the year, but they find healthy kids
gain the most benefits during the summer camps, which have been going on since the mid 1980s. Sally Neas, an apprentice at the farm, admits a lot of work still needs to be done to teach parents and children what is good for their bodies and why everyone should work to protect the environment. Neas said parents drop their youngsters off to learn about farming, yet pack them highly processed and unhealthy snacks.
According to health regulations created by the United States Department of Agriculture, children's plates should consist of half fruits and vegetables, a quarter lean meats and a quarter hearty whole grains. Neas tries to encourage similar meal options for the kids who attend, the newspaper reports.
The time spent at the camp is not solely for learning, as youngsters also participate in a variety of fun activities, such as creating statutes or people out of natural materials found on the grounds. Neas said watching the kids get creative with these type of outlets only further proves that they don't need electronics, they just need natural play
"That's something kids just naturally do," Neas told the publication.
Being outside also helps youngsters get in the 60 minutes of daily exercise as recommended by the Let's Move! initiative. Children can break a sweat climbing on playground equipment
or even going for swims in a lake or ocean.