January 5, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Send the Brat Outside

Problem teens get dramatically cured by wilderness adventures, researchers at the University of Essex found.  Science Daily reported that young offenders came back from their hikes and sailing trips with increased self-confidence, teamwork, trust, a sense of belonging, and a desire to cooperate and take responsibility for their future.
    Youths described initially as “disruptive, disrespectful and undisciplined” came back from their wilderness adventures with improved attitudes and less antisocial behavior.  A key element, the article said, was getting the young people in touch with nature and away from negative influences typical of urban environments.  “The difference in behaviour was amazing!” one researcher said after the trips.
    Additional studies have found similar positive effects of natural outings on people; “a link between nature and health seems to be emerging,” the article concluded.  “Wilderness therapy” should be considered part of programs for youth at risk.  They can benefit from ancillary parts of outdoor activity, including “healthy exercise and diet, individual and group therapy, educational curricula, primitive skills, group-living with peers, opportunities for solo time and reflection leadership training and challenges resulting from ‘back-to basics’ living.”

This was like a free ad for Creation Safaris.  Everyone stands to benefit from connectedness to nature.  The artificial, manipulative world most urbanites live in has bad health consequences.  Concentrating young people in urban centers is unnatural.  But selfishness-based adventures, as seen on reality TV programs, does little to build lasting character.  For that, young people need connectedness to their Creator – the one who made the healing environment.
    One mission to inner-city youth in Los Angeles, named World Impact, has a retreat center called The Oaks in a beautiful, natural setting far from the urban jungle.  The change in environment is so radical for some inner-city visitors, it is almost shock therapy for them to see trees, birds, and wide open spaces.  Kids given a chance at team-building activities, outdoor education and recreation centered on the life-giving message of God’s love are healed from the inside out.  There are hundreds of Christian ministries like this that use wilderness for therapy and enrichment.  Send in the website of your favorite – after taking a brisk walk in the woods yourself.

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Categories: Health

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