Green Time Not Screen Time

— Written By

A banner reading: Green Time not Screen Time - Pamlico County 4-H 2019 in green and read font on a cream background. Partially obscured by the cream background a photograph of a forrest with a creek running through the forrest floor, soft, mossy grass to the right.

Surrounded as we are by the great natural beauty of Pamlico County, the Neuse River, and the Croatoan, it is hard to imagine anyone not spending as much time as they could enjoying it. However, studies show that since the late nineties the time children spend outdoors in activities, such as sports, horseback riding, gardening, or hiking has decreased by fifty percent. Alongside this, there has been an increase in childhood obesity, as well as, increased levels of stress as children progress into the higher years of their education. Chronic obesity and high levels of stress over extended periods of time can have significant negative effects on overall health.

Spending time in nature doesn’t just reduce the risk of obesity, type II diabetes, and lower stress, but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and premature death and birth, as well as, increasing sleep duration. Further, those spending time in a green space have improved immune systems and a decrease in the stress marker salivary cortisol. Anyone of these health benefits could have a significant effect on health, all of these combined make for greatly improved overall health. By increasing our kids’ time out of doors participating in activities that engage both their mind and body, a life-long love of nature can be fostered while increasing overall health and improving mood.

So how can you get your kids away from screen time and into some high-quality green time? And can you get them engaging in activities that improve key life skills, such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving? Sports are a great opportunity but not all kids are interested in sports. Camping. Camping is an awesome opportunity to immerse kids into nature, away from their screens, and interacting with their peers. Spring Break is the perfect time to plan a camping trip, allowing kids to rest and reduce stress before heading back to school to prepare for their end of year examinations.

We love the outdoors too and are super excited for our second annual Pamlico – Carven County 4-H Spring Break Camping Trip. This year we will be heading to the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park where we can spend evenings enjoying the campfire after exploring the park. Kids will be spending their green time engaging in activities that give them the opportunity to develop life skills, but most of all to have a ton of fun in the great wide open. Kids will get to participate in traditional camping activities, building campfires, setting up tents, hiking, and making s’mores. Kids will also learn how to navigate by compass, the fundamentals of cartography, and will create their own map for their peers to follow to a treasure. They will fish for Shad and learn how to clean and prepare their catch. After preparing their own meals, they will create and share their own campfire stories, as well as enjoy unstructured time to explore and enjoy the outdoors with their fellow campers.

If you are interested in participating or learning more about our Second Annual Pamlico – Craven Spring Break Camping Trip, please contact either Kait Neeland (Pamlico County 4-H Agent) at 252-745-4121 or Ashley Brooks (Craven County 4-H Agent) 252-633-1477. If you are interested in our 4-H Presentation Club (First meeting March 13) see our Upcoming 4-H Events page. For more information about 2019 Summer Fun Programs, or any of our upcoming spring programs, such as, our Sewing Club, Crochet Workshops, and Junk Drawer Robotics give us a call at 252-745-4121, email kait_neeland@ncsu.edu, check us out online, or stop by our office (13724 NC, Highway 55, Alliance, NC 28509). Our next Junk Drawer Robotics meetings will be February 22. Don’t forget to come out and support our 4-Hers at the Coastal Planes Livestock Show April 22 and 23 at the Lenoir County Livestock Arena, check out their projects on our Facebook page. I am very proud of all the hard work they’ve done so far!