“The mountains are calling and I must go.” This famous quote is perhaps one of the most well-known and well-loved sayings by wilderness explorer John Muir. It’s not hard to understand why his words resonate with anyone who has ever visited the mountains of the Eastern Sierra and yearns to go back. In the mountains, we find freedom, quiet, adventure, and reconnection with nature, and that reconnection refreshes our humanity and leaves us thirsting for it over and over.
Many parents, once getting a taste of the scenery in and around Mammoth Lakes, come back every year with their families, immersing their kids in the natural beauty and creating life-long family traditions that focus on time spent together in the wild spaces that our the town’s backyard.
If you haven’t visited Mammoth Lakes yet, or haven’t been back in a while, here is a refresher on why you should consider taking your kids to the mountains.
Children (and Adults) are Happier and Healthier When They Go Outside
Studies show that time spent in unstructured play outdoors is beneficial to children’s overall happiness and development. Those same studies show that every encounter with the great outdoors helps, and the longer the time spent in nature, the greater the benefits.
Forest Bathing Is a Thing
No, we’re not saying to actually bathe your kids in the forest, although there are many natural hot springs in the area if you haven’t discovered them yet. We’re talking about something called Forest Bathing, a concept made popular in Japan, where people take long walks through public parks and forests and away from the bustle of the city. This concept of immersing yourself in nature is backed up by science. Research shows that spending even five minutes among trees and in green spaces improves our health. Time spent exercising and playing in forests reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves moods. These are benefits that can affect your whole family and leave you rejuvenated as you head back to life in the city after your visit to Mammoth Lakes.
Got Teens? Say Goodbye to Electronics and Hello to Each Other
Many of the hikes and trails in and near Mammoth Lakes quickly lose cell coverage. If you have teens who can’t seem to look away from the screen, this enforced break from technology means they might look up from the screen and out at their surroundings. It also means spending quality time as a family instead of with the ever-present third part of technology alongside you. Need to bargain with them? While they may not have a signal on their phones, their cameras will still work. Encourage your kids to take photos of the environment as a way to focus on the nature around them even more.
Build Self Confidence, Courage, and Resilience
Children who are allowed to play in unstructured, natural environments build self-confidence, courage, and resilience. It also dramatically improves their ability to focus in school, helps them get higher scores on tests, and perform better overall academically. Learning how to navigate outdoor environments helps kids assess and take risks, and childhood exposure to such problem-solving aides them for the rest of their life in tackling real-life problems.
Appreciate the Natural World
There is no better way to raise the next generation of kids who will care for our environment than by taking them into the mountains. Children who play, hike, explore and adventure outdoors learn to appreciate and become stewards of the environment.
Reasons abound for taking your kids to the mountains. The next time you’re considering where to take your family, consider the many benefits of heading outdoors here in Mammoth Lakes.