By Stephanie Gonzalez (Environmental Educator)
This year, Pepperwood’s science and nature-based Summer Camp for youth between the ages of seven and twelve went very much according to plan. The children hiked to diverse habitats, looked for signs of animals, examined specimens up close, and recorded their observations in their very own nature journals. But this year there was something different…
Cornhole, horseshoes, slack-lining, archery? Where have we landed?! Welcome to the adventure zone. I wanted to put a new twist on the program this year by offering children a structured opportunity to test their physical abilities as well. This is a place where children can learn, develop, and grow their understanding of their own body in relation to the world around them.
The benefits of these types of activities are myriad: as children discover their balance on a slack-line, they work through feelings like stress and fear in a safe and supportive environment. When they struggle to balance on the line or to hit the target with an arrow, they may feel discouraged, but with practice and patience they make it, and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Even finding a technique for tossing a horseshoe or a bean bag develops their coordination and decision-making skills. These activities strengthen the bond between children by giving them an opportunity to guide and support each other. The adventure zone is so much more than games, it’s a place to build confidence together. It promotes emotional, mental, physical, and social well being; skills that will have lasting benefits into adulthood.