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As parents we say it all the time –  children’s relationship with nature and spending time outdoors has changed. It’s not like when we were kids is it? Where is their ‘free roaming’ childhood of playing in the veld, building hide-outs, crossing streams and climbing trees? It has been mostly replaced by time indoors for our children, and organised activities such as sports and clubs. ‘We have traded green time for screen time’ {source}  — and it has had an impact on children’s well-being and development.

The reality is that our children need time outdoors, time spent in nature is a fundamental part of childhood, of growing up, of engaging with the world around us. And at a time when the world is filled with anxiety, uncertainty, perhaps a nature escape will do everyone some good. A change of scenery. A chance to reintroduce children to nature.

A wilderness escape at a nature reserve such as De Hoop offers children a vital break from their intense indoor, too often digitized and highly regimented lifestyle. Science is proving that kids who spend more time outdoors have ‘fuller and more wholesome lives’.Time in nature provides exercise, reduces anxiety, improves focus, makes them smarter, and helps develop deeper connections with family. Regular trips into the wild will:

Nurture a sense of wonder

Kids transform when they go outdoors. Nature creates a unique sense of wonder for children of all ages that no other environment can provide. According to Richard Louv, author of the book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorderwildlife holds a special fascination for children. They become engrossed in the details of their surroundings and the phenomena they encounter provoke questions about the earth and the life that it supports.

Activate their senses

The wilderness stimulates all our senses and enriches the human experience. Think of a toddler on a walk, who will delight in seeing new animals (sense), stopping at a bush of fragrant flowers (smell and touch), splashing and stomping in a stream (hearing and touch) or eating a parent-approved berry from a bush (taste). On the other hand, children glued to electronic screens only use two senses (sight and hearing).

Reduce stress and fatigue 

According to scientists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory, urban environments require what’s called directed attention, which forces us to ignore distractions and exhausts our brains. In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination that creates restorative feelings of pleasure, not fatigue.

Provide time for unstructured play and discovery

Children’s time is often pressured. Spare hours are spent on after-school activities, coaching, and organised sports with little time for unstructured activity. Nature escapes provide children with ample time to freely immerse themselves in the wild. At De Hoop they are allowed to walk and ride their bikes in the open veld, encounter wildlife like eland, baboons, spiders and scorpions, play and swim at the beach, climb and balance on boulders, hunt for starfish and octopi, light and stoke a camp fire, explore their surroundings at night, look at the stars, sunsets and sunrises to appreciate their beauty, listen to birds in the early morning and owls at night, and so much more.

Cultivate appreciation of nature

A child who grows up walking in the wilderness, seeing animals in their habitat, climbing a mountain, playing in a stream, or staring at the endless horizon of an ocean, will learn to love, appreciate and protect the earth. They will become true ambassadors who will ensure a healthy future of our planet.

Time spent in nature will boost the well-being and health of not only our children, but also of ourselves as adults. The best investment of our time is our time spent together in the wild.

Why not book one of De Hoop’s FUTURE-USE PACKAGES at a great discount and start daydreaming about your next nature escape with the kids? We look forward to welcoming you and your family to De Hoop soon.

Phone 021-422 4522 or email

De Hoop social media handles: Twitter/Instagram:@dehoopreserve/Facebook:

De Hoop Collection is a member of Cape Country Routes.

Twitter: @CapeCountryR

Instagram: capecountryroutes


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