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New Digital Generations Turn Outdoors: How Parks and Rec Departments Support Increase Demand

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Did you know that Americans spend almost 4.5 hours a day staring at TV screens, 5 hours staring at laptops, 4.5 hours staring at smartphone screens, and 3 hours and a bit using gaming devices?

All this adds up to 17 hours a day that American adults spend staring at digital screens of all kinds.

Due to the pandemic, more and more Americans are working remotely which means that they don’t break up all this screen usage with commute times or having lunch or breaks with colleagues. You, as the manager of a parks and rec department, can help Americans connect with nature by adding in more outdoor activities.

Keep reading to find out what kinds of excursions you could add to the program.

Digital Detox Retreats

Many wellness centers offer digital detox retreats where participants put away all their digital devices for the duration of the retreat.

The participants can even hand over all devices to the retreat organizer, and they will only give these devices back if there’s an emergency to deal with. This way participants won’t be tempted to whip out their phone in the toilet or underneath the bed covers.

The great thing about doing these retreats is that you don’t need any special equipment. You could even hold digital detox retreats for an afternoon and have yoga or meditation classes thrown into the mix. That will truly build up their overall wellness quotient.

Experience-Based Excursions

The modern generation is fed up with the notion of collecting money and stuff. They want to spend their money on building rich and diverse experiences. You can help them do this by running experience-based excursions.

Some examples are:

Foraging Walks

There is a new trend nowadays where people are interested in foraging for foods, herbs, and other healthy items from the nature trails and parks near them. The wild food resources that a participant can garner aren’t only healthy but teach them about the plants that are available near them.

Most people, if questioned, will have no idea what the plants or trees in their area are called. With foraging walks, participants can become more aware of the bounty of nature present next door to them and this can build a stronger connection with nature within them.

Interestingly enough, there are many ‘weeds’ in American neighborhoods that are edible and have wide-ranging health effects. The common dandelion is one of them. With foraging walks, Americans can become more aware of the weeds that they could use to improve their family’s health, rather than thinking all weeds are useless.

Playing Outdoor Sports

Of course, setting up soccer games or tennis matches is a great way to bring the outdoors to your community as well as build up their fitness levels. You can set up tournaments to bring the spice of competition into the games.

Some other sports you can play outdoors are:

Community Gardens

This is another trend that is quite popular nowadays among the digital generations. Growing your food is being lauded as the best way to revolt against the industrial farming industries.

Not only do you get to eat delicious, fresh, organic produce that you grew with your bare hands, but you also get to learn more about how plants grow, and how to take care of them in the best way possible. It’s also a great way to teach children about food since most of them have no idea where their cucumbers and tomatoes come from.

Community gardens help participants become less reliant upon big grocery stores, save money on their grocery bills, and help them profoundly connect with nature.

Woodworking Workshops

There are many different arts and crafts classes that can help participants spend time with nature. One of these is a woodworking workshop. Creating beautiful pieces of craft from discarded pieces of wood is a great way of feeling a connection to mother nature.

You could also set up other arts and crafts workshops, where participants use stones, leaves, stems, or rocks to create art. Participants could forage for items in nature and then use these items to create beautiful pieces of art. This will leave a lasting impression upon the participants about the beauties of nature.

Trail Walking or Biking

If you have any walking trails or hiking trails near your park and rec center, then you could use these to help digital generations go out into nature and experience the glories of it. You could have a walking guide that takes people on these tours, whilst also informing them about the trees, plants, and animals that inhabit that trail.

Biking tours are also easy to organize as many Americans have access to mountain bikes or city bikes.

You could also think about holding walking tours of the city or town that you live in, where the guide explains some of the history related to the area. Many people live in a city for a long time, without realizing the rich history behind their town.

It’s also a great way for families to come together and do something fun. If you wish to support local businesses, you could do a food tour, where you go from one delicious restaurant to another, and try some of the popular local fares.

Outdoor Yoga Classes

You might have seen pictures of Japanese people where hundreds of residents get together in the morning in parks and perform Tai Chi movements. This is a great way to inspire people to add some movement in their mornings before getting to the busy rush of everyday life.

You could hold outdoor yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong classes in the mornings or evenings. You could also consider holding Zumba, or other dance classes in an outdoor space, so people get fit while also being outdoors and in the sunshine.

Nature Study

One primary thing that Americans complain about is the disconnection they feel towards nature and anything natural. Everyone is spending so much time glued to digital screens that they have forgotten what it feels like to step onto the soft grass barefoot or hear the rustle of trees in the wind.

Americans spend less than half a day outdoors out of every week. Most of their time is spent indoors in various buildings and cars while commuting.

That’s why it’s so crucial that parks and rec centers take up the slack and help their community residents connect with nature by setting up programs for nature study. It could be a walk through nature or it could be movie nights where people watch nature movies under the stars.

As long as people in your community spend more time outdoors with the sunshine warming up their bodies, your job will be done.

A Parks and Rec Department Can Help Digital Generations Get Healthy

There are many ways a parks and rec department can think outside the box and bring more non-digital activities to their community residents. Americans are hungry for more connection with nature, so if you make it easy for your participants to experience the beauty of nature, you will increase your participation rates and sales.

If you are interested in setting up programs like the ones mentioned above, speak to other community centers in your city that have been successful with it. Or blaze your own trail and start something suitable to your community’s needs.

Every sports facility complex needs the power of a great software platform behind it and the DaySmart Recreaton platform is here to fill that need. Request a demo today and simplify facility management with our software.

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