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Middle Schoolers Need Nature

Middle school is often thought to be one of the most difficult times in an adolescent’s life. There are a million different challenges faced by preteens and those just becoming teenagers. A few of those challenges include but are hardly limited to:

  • Changes happening within their bodies and minds
  • Navigating friendships and relationships 
  • Trying to balance social media and real life
  • Bullying in school and on social media
  • Home and family life
  • Keeping up with school work and preparing for high school

Middle schoolers need to be able to disconnect from the things that cause stress and anxiety. They need to be able to reconnect with God through creation. 


One of the methods to help middle school-aged students take a break from the challenges they face is by getting them out in nature. Here is what you need to know about why and how to get your pre-teens and early teenagers outdoors. 

Why Middle Schoolers Need Nature

Pre-teens are at an age where they still retain much of their youthful imagination and creativity but are beginning to explore some of the deeper concepts in life. Of course, they are also easily impressed by immature humor and gross jokes, so you might not realize how much they are thinking about the mysteries of the universe and philosophy. 

Nature reveals much about God, his character, and his love for humanity. The beauty of creation inspires imagination and creativity. Getting outside helps prevent middle schoolers from losing their innocence and curiosity while exploring some of the deeper concepts in life. 

Middle Schoolers Aren’t Spending Enough Time Outside

In a previous article, we referenced some alarming statistics:

Teenagers are not spending as much time outdoors. According to a study by the Outdoor Foundation:

  • Only about 20% of Americans get outdoors to exercise at least once a week.
  • In 2018, Americans took one billion fewer outdoor trips than they did in 2008.
  • Sixty-three percent of respondents who say they go outside say they do so within 10 miles of their house.
  • In 2018, children went on 15% fewer yearly outdoor outings than in 2012.

We may soon see that some of these statistics have reversed since the pandemic; however, most parents have plenty of anecdotal evidence that middle schoolers spend too much time on their phones, and too little time out in the sun and amongst the trees. 

Being Outside Is Good for Pre-Teens and Teens

It’s unfortunate that middle schoolers are spending less time outside because there are so many benefits to getting out in nature. Adolescents can experience reduced stress, improved attention spans, and tend to be kinder when they get outdoors more often. 

We are not built to stay inside all day. If you are a middle school leader, you can imagine how much your kids will benefit from spending more time in nature. However, you might find that they are resistant to changing their behavior and adjusting the way they spend their time. You need to jumpstart the desire to get outdoors.

Schedule a Middle School Nature Retreat

Church leaders, club leaders, teachers, administrators, coaches, and parents may need to take the first step in helping their middle schoolers spend time outside. Scheduling a middle school retreat is the perfect way to help inundate them in nature without overdoing it. To help make sure your middle schoolers get the most out of the retreat, follow these tips:

  • Pick a Beautiful Place: The beauty of nature must be visible from your retreat center, or the meaning of the event might be lost on your pre-teens and young teenagers. 
  • Get Out in Nature: You don’t want your middle schoolers to merely see nature. You want them to be in it. Make sure you schedule time for hikes, fishing, biking, and other outdoor activities. They should be able to experience the outdoors with all their senses. 
  • Don’t Overdo It: Make sure you are scheduling activities that are appropriate for their ages, skill levels, and experiences. You’ll have to thread the needle between challenging them, so they aren’t bored without pushing so hard they are miserable. 
  • Plan Ahead: You want to plan your retreat far enough in advance to ensure parents and students can put it on the calendar. Middle school schedules fill up quickly, so you may need to plan several months in the future.
  • Plan Time for Connecting with God: One of the reasons you want your pre-teens and young teenagers to get outside is to reconnect with the God who made the outdoors. Make sure you build time into the schedule for reconnecting with God. 
  • Pray: Pray before, during, and after your retreat for your teenagers and volunteers. 
  • Communicate: Make sure you communicate about your retreat to your middle schoolers and their parents. Your excitement will be contagious. 

Middle School Retreats at High Peak Camp

High Peak Camp is a ministry of the Salvation Army. Our retreat center is state-of-the-art, our grounds are beautiful, and we are conveniently located in Estes Park, just minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park. We have facilities and activities that meet a wide range of needs and group sizes. 

If you are planning a middle school retreat, we would love to talk with you more about the benefits of using our beautiful facilities. Contact the team at High Peak Camp for more information