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Nine Tips for Safe Youth Retreats in Nature

Children today play outside half as much as they did thirty years ago, according to the Alliance for Childhood, a non-profit advocacy organization. Children aged 10 to 16 spend an average of 10.4 of their waking hours almost motionless, according to research by the Alliance for Childhood.

Inactivity has negative effects that are widely known. Children who aren't active as they grow up have increased rates of obesity, diabetes, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Encourage kids to play outside as a terrific way to get them moving and teach them about the world.

Before going outside, you do need to keep in mind that safety comes first. Nothing ruins an outdoor activity or well-planned nature stroll like a case of poison ivy, skinned knees, or dehydration. 

Many adults believe that taking a child into nature is too unsafe and that they run the chance of getting hurt. Children must, however, be given the chance to understand their limitations. If they are protected from all risks, they cannot discover what that is.

Nine Tips for Safe Youth Retreats in Nature

1. Appropriate Dress 

When exploring nature you will want to make sure you have appropriate attire. Make sure your youth have closed-toe shoes. It is also smart to wear long pants. 

Depending on the type of activity you are doing, you may encourage your youth to wear long sleeves as well. Closed-toe shoes, long sleeves, and long pants will protect your youth from poisonous plants, hanging limbs, insect bites, and snake bites.

2.  Stay Hydrated

You will want to make sure you and your youth carry a water bottle with you. It is important to stay hydrated as you are outside exploring nature, especially when you are at altitude! Colorado is a very dry climate. Add in the altitude in this area, and it’s shocking how quickly you can dehydrate.

3. Bug Spray

Bug spray is often overlooked until you are amongst the trees, continually getting bitten. Be sure your youth know the importance of carrying bug spray. Most insect bites are only a nuisance but there are some who are allergic and may cause adverse reactions.

4. Sunscreen 

Sunscreen is another important must for being outdoors. Be sure to carry sunscreen in your backpack so you and your youth can reapply as needed. We prefer zinc based sunscreens, which are typically lower in harmful chemicals.

5. Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

Make sure you are aware of what poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac look like. In the same way, take time before exploring nature to educate your youth on what these poisonous plants look like as well so they will stay clear of these plants. It may be wise to have pictures available, so the youth can compare plants they are unsure of with the pictures.

6. Dangerous Animals

When you are exploring nature, you are in the home of many animals. Some of these animals are harmless but obviously, some are not. 

Have a plan for what the youth should do if they come across animals such as snakes, spiders, or other wild animals that could harm them. It would be wise to research the area and have pictures of animals you may come in contact with.

7. Insect Stings 

Many people are allergic to insect stings such as bees, wasps, and yellow jackets. Remind your youth to be mindful of these insects, but not overreact when they see them. 

Most of the time they will leave you alone if you aren’t swatting at them. You should also remind your youth that insects are attracted to perfumes and food, so they might want to keep those away for this activity.

8. Outside Temperature 

Before exploring the outdoors, check what the temperature is going to be. You will want to be careful with extreme heat. If it is going to be hot, you will want to find some shade and take frequent breaks. You will also want to encourage your youth to drink plenty of water. 

9. Scout Out the Area

It would be wise to scout out the area you are going to be exploring ahead of time. You will want to take note of how long the hike is, and if there are any potential hazards such as steep inclines, large trees in the way, or wide streams.

You will also want to check on where the closest restrooms and water supply sources are.

High Peak Camp 

High Peak Camp is the perfect place for your youth to explore and connect with nature in a safe environment. Don't let concern for safety prevent you from taking youth out to explore the outdoors. Let us help you plan the perfect outdoor adventure.

The overall purpose of High Peak Camp is to serve the total person, physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. The aim of the camping experience is to foster within each individual a deeper understanding of our relationship with God and our fellow human beings; gain an appreciation and respect for God’s creation. 

For more information about High Peak Camp, its facilities, and its program offerings, or to book your next retreat, contact us or visit our website.