single child amongst the meadowed trail at The Hollows Camp

Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods

The value of nature-based settings like those found in many kids summer camps is well documented.
Benefits include the development of a sense of wonder (Louv, 2005), cognitive development (Pyle,
2002), better concentration (Wells, 2000), and creative outdoor play that fosters language and
collaborative skills as well as critical thinking and problem-solving (Fjortoft, 2001). The summer camp
philosophy of learning by doing fits well with current educational trends such as project-based learning
for its connection to real world situations where learners are encouraged to work and problem solve
creatively together (English & Kitsantas, 2013).

Wells and Evans (2003) in reviewing literature on the direct effects of nature on children’s well-being
concluded “that not only do children prefer to spend time in natural settings, but disconnection from
the natural environment negatively affects the well-being of children. Furthermore, the availability and
use of green, outdoor spaces contributes to cognitive function – as well as to social interaction and
social connectedness”.

Researchers have also explored the connection between educational experiences in outdoor settings
such as summer camp, and future attitudes related to the preservation of natural, wild places (Ewert &
Sibthorp, 2005) and in making environmentally responsible choices (Collado, Staats, & Corraliza, 2013).