July 17, 2013
By BRENT WIDENER
Wildlife Conservation Branch
FORT BENNING, Ga., (July 17, 2013) -- I left my cellphone, which is not a smartphone, at the house the other day and felt detached, like there was a piece of me missing, all day. It sometimes seems as though technology rules every waking moment of our lives -- our work time, personal time, family time and even our exercise and vacation time when we should be unwinding from the stress of everyday life. People like me who believe they had chosen a profession that allowed them to spend time in the outdoors find themselves tied to technology and stuck indoors too much.
Spending time outdoors encompasses a smaller portion of most people's lives than ever in human history. There is a multitude of research that clearly shows the dramatic decline that has occurred, particularly with respect to our children.
Most folks are aware this phenomenon is occurring and have probably seen other articles or news programs addressing these issues and the impacts reduced outdoor activity is having on our health, knowledge and well-being.
Plan a weekend camping trip. Make a commitment to take the family fishing several times a month. Introduce your children, and yourself if necessary, to hunting or shooting sports. If you just can't see yourself as a hunter, spend time in the outdoors observing wildlife and taking pictures. You can even do so in your backyard if you just don't feel comfortable out in the woods.
There are amazing things to see and do in the natural environments that surround us. We can all learn and observe new things. Additionally, there are a multitude of documented health benefits from spending time outdoors.
All of that to say this: Find and create opportunities to spend time in the outdoors with your family. The natural wonder provided by Mother Nature and spending time in the great outdoors is invaluable. It provides a chance for us to decompress and creates opportunities for physical exertion while refining observational skills, concentration, and cognition.
Time spent in the outdoors also etches memories, such as a 4-year-old digging worms so she can go fishing -- and catching, all by herself, her first largemouth bass -- or trying, unsuccessfully, to roost her first turkey; chasing ghost crabs at night on the beach; catching lighting bugs; her first trip to the deer woods; catching box turtles; and on and on and on. Those are memories that will last a lifetime. And when you go, make sure you turn off your cellphones; or better yet, just leave them at home.