We always knew that family trips away from the bustle and deadlines of everyday life made us feel good. Now there is evidence about how much getting out in nature truly helps us through increased mental health and psychological development in a variety of areas. Relaxation and stress relief, decreased mental fatigue, increased mental clarity, and increased energy are a few positive results of what nature can offer us. Arizona River Runners whitewater rafting trips provides opportunities for children and their families to reconnect with nature.
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not just the absence of disease. Good health is a delicate balance of physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and social health.” More than 100 research studies have shown that outdoor recreation reduces stress. John Burroughs, naturalist and writer (1837-1921) stated “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and have my senses put in order.” Whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon is a “grand” way of balancing health, home and family. Grand Canyon rafting trips are one way of having your senses “put in order.”
This intangible connection of nature with our inner selves does something to our minds and bodies that create a balance and centering so crucial in our lives. This crucial element is shrinking with what is now termed today’s “nature–deprived youth culture” in which many families have replaced outdoor activities with TV’s, X-boxes, texting, MP3 players, and digital computer games. We need to get outside, enjoy the outdoors, and be together as a family. One way to do this is to take a Grand Canyon adventure rafting the Colorado River. Family rafting trips encourage community, communication and inspiration.
Being in the canyon is so much different from being at the Grand Canyon; your appreciation of, and your desire to protect nature will skyrocket. The flora and fauna, camping under a blanket of stars, shooting the rapids on a Colorado River trip will amaze you; rejuvenate you – body and soul.
Richard Louv, author of national bestseller Last Child in the Woods, who coined the phrase ‘nature deficit disorder’ says “Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health. Unlike TV, nature doesn’t steal time, it amplifies it. It inspires creativity by demanding visualization and the full use of senses.”
In recent years, health care providers are recognizing that nature can be therapeutic in treating attention deficit disorder and depression. A recent study by American Institutes for Research has evidence that students who participate in outdoor science programs improved their test scores by 27 percent as well as improvement in conflict resolution skills and cooperation; President Obama is strongly behind the outdoor initiative. The National Wildlife Federation started “Be Out There” a public education campaign to encourage a daily green hour of unstructured out- of- door playtime for children. Their goal “is to return to the nation’s children what they don’t even know they’ve lost; their connection to the natural world.” A recent New York Times article provides additional information about what they call “outdoor deprivation disorder.”
The family rafting trips that Arizona River Runners offers in Grand Canyon National Park provide some health benefits. Research has cited evidence that children who are taken on a Grand Canyon raft trip will likely gain in:
• Hardiness- appreciation of challenge as opportunity
• Improved self-esteem and self-confidence by successfully meeting challenges (Kaplan & Kaplan)
• Respect and appreciation for nature
• Problem-solving ability
• Broader sense of community
Positive effects of nature are found to be strongest in children ages 6-12 (middle childhood). Besides whitewater rafting trips being just plain fun and a great adventure, they provide compelling learning experiences that children build on as they develop their view of themselves and the world. A ten year research program studying the impact of wilderness experience shows that those who participate in outdoor/wilderness adventures have also been affected long term as seeing their lives as less cluttered and more focused on what they consider valuable. (Janet Talbot & Stephen Kaplan: Psychological Laboratories, University of Michigan).
Frank Lloyd Wright, acclaimed architect and philosopher, advised “study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” No matter what you carry home within from a whitewater rafting trip with Arizona River Runners, or other outdoor adventure, it will undoubtedly be more valuable than any souvenir you could take home in a suitcase or place on a shelf.
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