One of the great ills of our society is the separation from nature that has happened over time. Our children are largely strangers to the outdoors. I attended a seminar where the speaker pointed out that if you ask an over 30 year old if their parents told them to "go out and play and don't be home until after dark"...a vast majority would say...."yes". Under 30 years old their play was mostly organized...with sports. They have missed out on play in nature.
Parents that have bought into the fear of abduction...or the fear of what other parents would think if they let their kids out...have replace unstructured play with these sports...which can be good....but they miss out on a lot. Specifically....using their imagination. Appearantly the average youth in the US watches 6-8 hours of TV daily. That is a full time job! Then they are scurried off to their sports where they are told what to do. There are many studies that support the need for children to have unstructured play...and the value of it. There is a great book called "nature deficit disorder" which I recommend.
A recent message from the First Presidency to Bishoprics stated plainly...that they want the youth to have more "out of home experiences."
Read these words from Richard G. Scott from General Conference “Finding Joy in Life,” Ensign, May 1996, 24
"Recently I stood on the north shore of a beautiful Pacific island gazing out to sea at daybreak. I was fascinated by the regularity with which the gigantic waves consistently moved forward to break on the shoreline. It reminded me of the constancy of the plan of the Lord, with its fixed, eternal law, and the security of enduring justice and the tenderness of mercy when earned by obedience. I noticed that each wave would crest at a different point on the horizon to find its unique path to shore. Some cascaded over rocks, leaving rivulets of foaming, white water. Others burst on the shore in individual patterns. They slid up the moistened sand with playful frothy edges, then bubbled and swirled as they receded.
I thought of the unending variety of possibilities the Lord has provided for us. We have so much freedom, so many opportunities to develop our unique personalities and talents, our individual memories, our personalized contributions. Since there would be no further opportunity to observe the majestic sea, I tried to imagine the glorious panorama the brilliant sun would later create. As I watched this magnificent scene in reverence, a window formed in the clouds; the glistening rays of the rising sun broke through the overcast sky, transforming everything with its luminescence, its color, its life. It was as if the Lord wanted to share an additional blessing, a symbol of the light of His teachings that gives brilliance and hope to everyone it touches. Tears of gratitude formed for this wondrous world in which we live, for the extraordinary beauty our Heavenly Father so freely shares with all who are willing to see. Truly, life is beautiful.
Do you take time to discover each day how beautiful your life can be? How long has it been since you watched the sun set? The departing rays kissing the clouds, trees, hills, and lowlands good night, sometimes tranquilly, sometimes with exuberant bursts of color and form. What of the wonder of a cloudless night when the Lord unveils the marvels of His heavens—the twinkling stars, the moonlight rays—to ignite our imagination with His greatness and glory? How captivating to watch a seed planted in fertile soil germinate, gather strength, and send forth a tiny, seemingly insignificant sprout. Patiently it begins to grow and develop its own character led by the genetic code the Lord has provided to guide its development. With care it surely will become what it is destined to be: a lily, crowned with grace and beauty; a fragrant spearmint plant; a peach; an avocado; or a beautiful blossom with unique delicacy, hue, and fragrance. When last did you observe a tiny rosebud form? Each day it develops new and impressive character, more promise of beauty until it becomes a majestic rose. You are one of the noblest of God’s creations. His intent is that your life be gloriously beautiful regardless of your circumstances. As you are grateful and obedient, you can become all that God intends you to be."
Our exposure to God's creations...and the effect on our wellbeing cannot be underemphasized.