So how many of you made New Year resolutions? Are you still sicking to them – or planning to stick to them?
For me, I've resolved to hop on a cross-Channel ferry with my wife and kids, with a caravan in tow, to visit a French campsite or two. I can’t wait to see how our two get on making friends with Continental kids.
We’ll leave the TV and tablets at home, take a small box of toys, and encourage them to spend as much time outdoors as possible. It won’t be a hardship for them: we’ll take day trips to historic locations, go on wildlife walks, rock pool adventures, and much more.
Fortunately, my kids love camping and when the great outdoors doubles as a living, breathing classroom, then they’re holidays and lessons the kids will never forget.
Whether it’s exercise you can do on site, outdoor activities off site, or simply relaxing and spending time with loved ones, I reckon camping can be the key to improving mental and physical well-being.
And research the Club has conducted in recent years shows this to be particularly true for kids.
All of which fits nicely with our content theme for the month of January: how camping is a brilliant hobby to improve your health. It’s a theme that’s backed up by plenty of research that the Club has conducted in recent years.
Children who camp in the great outdoors at least once a year go on to do better at school, as well as being happier and healthier, according to their parents: this was the finding of a study carried out by the Institute of Education at Plymouth University, commissioned by The Camping and Caravanning Club in 2015.
95% of parents surveyed said their kids were happier when camping; and 93% felt that it provided useful skills for later life. 80% took part in nature walks, 71% seaside visits and 71% went on woodland visits. The stats supported our National Camping and Caravanning Week 2015 activity – check out our video.
And in 2016, the Club surveyed 2000 UK parents and grandparents, and discovered children in the UK are falling behind in the happiness stakes because they spend too much time indoors, according to around one in two UK adults (44%), who worry their children or grandchildren aren’t as happy as they were at the same age.
88% of adults believe that spending more time outdoors and going on camping trips would help improve children’s social skills and mental health, because it would teach them how to interact, adapt and operate in real life and practical situations. Yet half (50%) admit their children don’t spend enough time outdoors and over two thirds (69%) say their children spend more time indoors than outdoors.
Furthermore, 72% of all adults believe that social media and online gaming have a negative effect on children’s’ ability to engage and interact in real life situations.
The survey also revealed that the majority (86%) of adults believe that encouraging children to spend more quality time in the Great British Outdoors and on camping trips could help to increase physical health and fitness and in turn fight against the current, so-called obesity epidemic.
More than a third agreed that being active in earlier life means the child would be more likely to retain a level of fitness in adult life. Yet only 21% of children today regularly play outdoors, compared to 71% of their parents.
These are stats that don’t make for great reading, and they’ve hardened my resolve to get more active with the kids. My wife and I do our best to stop them spending more than an hour a day glued to a tablet or TV screen. Often we fail, but so far it doesn’t seem to have taken a toll on them – they’re both bright, confident rogues, with energy to burn and an enthusiasm for everything.
But they’re never brighter, sparkier and more alive than when we’re out camping, and that’s something we plan to do a lot more of in 2018.