Who would have thought that day trips or retreats in nature would become an element of therapy and part of the recommended treatment for adults or even children who are stressed out in the 21st century?
As early as 2018, doctors in Scotland began to officially prescribe nature as a component of therapeutic treatment: nature – going out into nature, or the so-called “nature therapy” (Fleischer, 2018).
In 2019, this practice has been spreading to more than 34 US states. Scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of going out in nature as follows: reducing stress and anxiety as well as reducing aggressive behavior and depression (Murdoch, 2020).
The newest concept about the therapeutic effects of nature on the mental and physical state of individuals is that of “nature as medicine.” According to the World Leisure Organization, this has become a major movement in America, Australia, and Mexico. Hundreds of research studies conclude that the benefits of nature for the mental and physical health of people stand in:
– Reducing blood pressure
– Reducing anxiety
– Increasing well-being
With the increase in the number of electronic devices (including digital devices), the number of hours a person spends, on average, in front of a screen has increased to 8 hours a day. The effects of a sedentary lifestyle are reflected on the physical and mental condition of these people who are no longer involved in physical activity. This approach of doctors to prescribe “nature” to their patients comes from the increase in the number of chronic diseases, among which we mention: diabetes, anxiety, depression, obesity, and high blood pressure (World Leisure Organization, 2020).
What do we do?
Our team has been organizing camps for more than 20 years for disadvantaged children and youth in order to help them enjoy nature and its benefits in an organized and safe environment, allowing them to experience the true joy of childhood. Moreover, the friendly and informal environment in which they find themselves allows the children to ask questions and have deep discussions about life, God’s creation, and God’s purpose for their life.
The activities we prepare for children every year are very diverse. Each activity has an educational, spiritual, and recreational purpose that contributes to the harmonious development of self.
During the summer of 2021, the activities we chose for our day camps are as follows:
- Happy Land Adventure Park
Purpose: To support participants in overcoming their limits, overcoming their fears, and developing appropriate behavior in society.
- Green Forest
Purpose: To encourage participants to get closer to nature, to accumulate knowledge about the environment, and to learn to protect it. Young people will have the opportunity to see and interact with birds and wild animals in their natural environment.
- Master Adventure – Rafting
Purpose: In addition to the detachment from electronic devices, this activity aims to develop the ability to work in a team and form relationships based on trust.
- Master Adventure – Via Ferrata
Purpose: To develop responsible behavior and risk management skills.
Whom are we helping?
Throughout the year, we work with more than 100 disadvantaged children and youth in Bihor County. Some of these children do not have a place to call “home” or a family to offer them help and guidance. Others are marginalized by society and the prejudices of those around them, due to poverty, or cultural and economic status.
Some of these children have families and parents who are also vulnerable and disadvantaged thereby finding themselves in need of support.
Why do we offer day camps to young people?
Going out in nature is always a reason for joy, as it represents a time of inspiration, recreation, and the creation of unforgettable memories. It is the time children spend in nature joyfully, without fear, laughing wholeheartedly and running full of energy that helps to heal them. It is in these moments that they know that someone is taking care of them and loving them unconditionally!
For us, day trips represent the time when we give without expecting anything in return. It is the time when we show that we care about all the children and young people in the community in which we live.
We are grateful for all those who come to our aid every year, helping us make these activities possible.
We thank all the families and employees in Oradea and the nearby villages that support our ministry and our children!
We are delighted with your generosity as you walk this path with us!
Fleischer E. (2018, 12th of October). Scottish doctors can now prescribe nature to their patients. Big Think. Available at: Scottish doctors can now prescribe nature to their patients – Big Think. Accessed 1st of July 2021.
Murdoch D. (2020). US doctors are prescribing nature in 34 states. Nature connection guide. Available at: https://natureconnectionguide.com/us-doctors-are-prescribing-nature-in-34-states/. Accessed 1st of July 2021.
World Leisure Organization (2020, 2nd of March). Park Rx America participates in research on the health outcomes of medical prescriptions to visit parks. Available at: https://www.worldleisure.org/park-rx-america-participates-in-research-on-the-health-outcomes-of-medical-prescriptions-to-visit-parks/. Accessed 1st of July 2021.