In order to engage with young adults just entering the workforce we've partnered with experienced therapists, social workers, artists and avid adventurers to explore some outdoor activities that will challenge young adults to engage, observe and create.
As a side note: make sure any activities you engage in are safe and you and your companions are prepared for any and all possible issues that could arise from being outdoors in nature.
Fresh air and nature have been proven to be great for our bodies and minds. Exposure to fresh air helps heal the lungs and brain as well as boots the immune system. Engaging in nature has also been proven to help mental clarity and can offer a calming experience for those suffering from PTSD. Make sure you research all your hikes and consult local guide books and websites. Bring plenty of drinking water for you and your hiking companions (that includes any pets with you) and bring a small first aid kit in case of emergencies or injuries. Always schedule enough time to hike in AND out and let others know where you'll be and when you expect to return home in case of any emergencies.
If you're going to hike, you might as well camp! Camping, as noted with hiking above, provides a boost to your immune system, brain and mental health. Challenging yourself to new experiences also gives you a healthy sense of confidence and security knowing you can survive and thrive outdoors. As always research before you head out on your trip and bring the proper supplies to ensure you have a wonderful time out in the wild. Check the weather forecasts for any hiking and camping trips you plan as you don't want to be stuck in cold, rainy weather without any supplies.
If hiking or camping seem too daunting, picnics are a great way to allow yourself the time to stop, sit, listen and observe the world around you. Parks and greenways are great places to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while close to home. Gather your favorite foods and some drinks in a portable container and grab a blanket and go!
Have a party in the park. Bring your BBQ charcoal and some good veggies and meat to grill and have an outdoor party in park. Most parks offer free BBQ areas with picnic tables and you can even reserve areas in some parks for large groups. Watch out for bees and ants and bring your own garbage bags to clean up after the party. Keeping public places and nature clean for others ensures we all get to enjoy the outdoors.
5. Nature Walks
Not really a hike per se but a nature walk usually has another goal aside from being in nature. Have participates take a short meditative walk through the woods or a local garden to clear their minds. Another nature walk purpose could be to take a short walk to a beautiful place of nature and sit and do some drawing, painting, or journaling. Another nature walk could be taken to learn about medicinal plants found in the wild, to explore wildlife or even for bird watching. Nature walks can just be about walking of course. A short walk through a park can help participant's mental and physical health.
Working outdoors in a garden can be very rewarding. Planning, planting, watering, maintaining and then harvesting a garden requires a lot of skills that can be very beneficial to young adults. Investing your time and patience in gardening is mentally and physically rewarding. Research the best times to plant and which seasonal vegetables and fruits you want to grow. Consult a garden professional for other tips and tricks on gardening.
7. Environmental Clean-Up
Though it might not sound rewarding, doing volunteer work like cleaning up litter in parks and along roadways can be very rewarding. Not only are you outside in nature, getting the benefits of fresh air on your immune system, you also are getting a good feeling from helping the environment and your community. Get heavy duty plastic garbage bags, gloves, litter pick-up tools and safety vests if you're going to be alongside roadways, and help keep our world clean.
8. Horseback Trail Riding
The therapeutic benefits of being around horses is proven to help PTSD, depression, and grief. Not only are you in nature but you are enjoying the world while connecting with an animal. Animals can sense a lot of human emotions can be productive therapy assistants. Learning how to care and maintain clean stables for horses is also a helpful way to learn how to be responsible for caring for others.
Not only is fishing a great bonding activity but it also is meditative and great for helpful life survival skills. Participant can even learn catch and release fishing to encourage empathy while ensuring they learn new skills and activities. A sense of accomplishment as well as inner peace can be accomplished with a simple afternoon of fishing.
Pools and lakes are great for swimming but hiking to swimming holes can also be a great adventure for a summer outdoor activity. Check around for any river tubing near you for a great summer group trip. Pack up a cooler, towels, and some sunscreen and hit the water. Make sure you ensure all your participants know how to swim and have a competent adult who knows CPR keep an eye on your group. Also prohibit swimming for 20-30 minutes after eating to avoid cramps. To ensure absolute safety follow all posted signage and warnings about the body of water you plan on swimming in and make sure it is safe for group.
Outdoor activities are fun when there's more than one. Get a group together for a game of soccer or kickball in the park. You don't even need an official baseball diamond either. Make your own bases or goal posts. Team sports a great way to teach camaraderie, teamwork, leadership and compassion as well as being a good sport when winning and losing.
As with all extracurricular group activities makes sure you take all the steps possible to ensure that your participants are having fun and learning in a safe and responsible environment. Make sure you're prepared with supplies for any emergencies that could arise and that you let others in your organization know where you'll be and when you'll be back.
Being outdoors can enhance your immune system, help improve mental health and clarity and provide for a great learning environment so remember to include outdoor activities as part of your program!