I read an interesting article this morning in the Reading Eagle regarding a study that says Americans are more reluctant than ever to leave home and head for the park. I think the article says a lot, but thinking like an American I would say "So what am I missing?" by examining the photo provided in the article, which researchers say "Americans are missing".
Now by no means do I hate parks- I love them and I regularly head over to Grings Mill (pending very good weather) to drive my RC Ships around. Parks are still popular- according to the article about 275 million people visited parks in 2007 (that number seems a bit odd, I am sure it is not representative of each unique visitor). The study says that children are missing out on a core exercise in growing up: being able to head outdoors and do what they do. I would agree with this statement.
As a kid growing up, mom always made an important note to take us to the park at least once a week in Catonsville, MD. We would always play on the jungle jim and sometimes when we visited the larger park (I forget the name of the park, but it is right down the street of St. Paul Lutheran Church and School) we would play everything from kickball to baseball. Even the elementary school (St. Paul) made it an important point that their students need to get outside once in a while. Each year we had a few class picnics at the park, and I enjoyed myself. Kickball in the sand, water balloons, water wars, and the principal on the grill cooking hotdogs. Please, what is better than that?! (and they were very good hotdogs, too).
I won't harp on video games, I think they are great but really I do think kids need to get out and get some fresh air. It is a great stress reliever and it has allowed me to have a greater appreciation for facilities like parks. I may be too heavy for the jungle jim or seesaw, but I am big enough to head out and enjoy nature, then go back to my truck and drive my RC boats around peacefully for 30 minutes. It's a real head turner for the joggers.
You can find the Reading Eagle's website here. Since I could not find an online version of the article I will cite it:
"Fewer Americans Heading Outdoors, Research Shows." Reading Eagle 03 Mar. 2008, sec. A10.