Girls Outdoors provides students with the opportunity to connect with nature by participating in exciting outdoor excursions. This club is a meaningful experience for anyone interested in the environment, adventure, physical and emotional well-being, and teamwork. In an atmosphere without academic competition or stress, students can bond and become appreciative citizens of the world.
We will share adventures, learn from one another, laugh and exercise together, all while creating long-lasting friendships with each other and the Earth. I hope you share my vision and that you will decide to be part of the adventure!
I, Jillian Sher, am proposing the creation of the Kent Place Girls Outdoors Club for upper school students. I feel strongly that Kent Place students would benefit greatly from participating in this fun club that provides opportunities to connect with nature.
In my research pertaining to my Gold Award for Girl Scouts, I have found that today’s generation of youth is deprived of time in nature. According to a study by Hofstra University, 70% of mothers say that they played outdoors every day when they were young, and only 31% are able to say the same about their children. Similarly, 56% of mothers claim to have stayed outside for three hours at a time or longer, while just 22% report the same about their children. CRC Health, an organization that researches and supports the benefits of being in nature and behavioral health for teenagers, states that children between six months and six years old are on electronics for an average of one and a half hours a day. Youth between eight and eighteen years old spend six and a half hours on average with electronics per day, totaling to over 45 hours a week. As a student at Kent Place, I am aware that my classmates and I spend almost all our time at school on computers, and then hours at home on our computers or phones doing homework or on social media. That is about 10 hours a day, and 70 hours during a school week - and that does not include homework and social media over the weekends. This deprivation of time outside exists because of the huge amounts of time that teenagers spend at school, doing homework, participating in extracurriculars, and being on screens.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, first coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe the state of our generation. Today, teenagers are busy and stressed, and this impacts both their mental and physical health. According to Teens To Trails, an organization that supports the founding of outing clubs in Maine schools, almost eight million youths have mental disorders. The number of teen suicides is increasing. Childhood obesity exists in large numbers, especially for teenagers of ages fourteen through eighteen. 40% of children show signs of heart and circulation problems.
Spending unstructured time in nature has a multitude of health benefits. It has been proven that people respond to nature with strong positive feelings and that being in nature reduces depression and anxiety. Timothy Egan wrote in his New York Times article, “Nature-Deficit Disorder,” that children who play outside have a stronger immune system, are able to adapt to sudden changes in their lives, and are less likely to be stressed or aggressive. CRC Health states that the benefits of being outdoors include mental, psychological, and spiritual development; improvement in self-confidence and self-discipline; achieving a broad sense of community, stress level reduction, and recovery from stress and injuries; improvement in grades, performance, standardized test scores, positivity, attention, and awareness; the finding of a better meaning, purpose, and a sense of connectedness. An indirect benefit of being outside in nature and doing unstructured physical activities is the opportunity to challenge oneself in a non-academic way. Facing and overcoming challenges gives one a chance to improve, building self-confidence and esteem. A challenge that is shared bonds people together.
On a personal level, school, activities outside of school, homework, and more prohibit me from spending time outdoors. However, when I do find time to be outside on special occasions or on school breaks, I feel the difference emotionally and physically. I have always loved spending time outside. That is why I decided to connect my love of nature to my genius project and Girl Scout Gold Award, an 80-hour take-action project. My Gold Award Project addresses the mental and physical health issues resulting from remaining indoors (due to the pressures of schoolwork or electronics) instead of getting the healing benefits of being outside in nature. My project's target audience consists of today's children and teenagers who suffer from "nature-deficit disorder." To help combat this problem, I am starting this Girls Outdoors Club where my peers and I will learn the basics of outdoor skills and Leave No Trace principles. We will also plan, embark on, and creatively record our periodic outings. I will become certified in Leave No Trace and Wilderness First Aid and take other classes in outdoor leadership skills so that I can lead wilderness expeditions. In addition to creating this club, I plan to lead outings and classes with younger Girl Scouts, at my local arboretum, and with Middle and Primary School students in their environmental clubs at my school. I will teach them the benefits of spending time outdoors and how to be good stewards of our Earth.
By creating the Kent Place Girls Outdoors Club, I plan to build community and give my peers a chance to experience the emotional and physical benefits of spending time in the great outdoors.
Our goal is to have one outing per trimester (involving hiking, service projects, skiing, rafting, canoeing, or kayaking, etc. to places including the Reeves-Reed Arboretum, Appalachain Trail, Watchung Reservation, Mountain Creek, or the Delaware Water Gap, and more) on Saturdays and/or Sundays
The club will have biweekly meetings during club/break on Thursdays of B Week.
If a student decides to be a member of the Girls Outdoors Club, they are expected to attend every meeting. There will be an email list including the members so that we can communicate about meetings and outings. Attendance will be taken at every meeting. Club outings are open to the entire student body and are not mandatory.