Children outdoors flash slideshow

Welcome to Youth Outdoors USA!




Copyright © 2011 Youth Outdoors USA


Youth Outdoors USA would love to have your participation in this website!

Welcome to Youth Outdoors USA!  We're very glad you found us, and hope you enjoy your stay immensely.  Please take the time to explore the world of outdoor activities for children and young adults.  It may change the way you look at life...  and if you are an adult, maybe this site will show you ways to help your kids enjoy the great outdoors.

We have absolutely nothing against technology and it's profound affect on today's society, but it would be wonderful if somehow, some way we could all join together in the quest for reacquainting our youth with the outdoors.  Not only can this diversification of interests help develop a well rounded individual, but we believe it will certainly begin to rebuild the "family unit" that has apparently disappeared over the last few decades.

Although it seems to be more and more difficult to find time to spend with our friends and family...  this is an absolute necessity to ensure a strong USA in the future. Sometimes taking a step back to "the way things used to be" is a very good thing.... Outdoor BBQ's with neighbors, fishing with our kids, becoming involved in organized sports, and many other outdoor activities are a step in that direction.

If you would like to become involved with Youth Outdoors USA, we could really use your help.  Whatever interest or expertise you might have related to kids outdoor activities, please click on the "volunteer" button, complete the simple form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Should you prefer to help "behind the scenes", we welcome your kids outdoor articles, photos, stories, or links to other great children's outdoor websites!  Just click on the "submit" buttons throughout this website, and you're on your way to being a part of Youth Outdoors USA, and helping get families back outside together!

Again, thanks for taking the time to investigate Youth Outdoors USA!

Because Youth Outdoors USA is a non-profit website, we rely almost entirely on your submissions for content, and thus you will determine just how much we accomplish.  In return, it is our commitment to do the best we can to ensure the highest placement possible on the major search engines through optimization of all pages.  If we are successful, your kids outdoor articles, photos, and stories will be viewed by thousands, and possibly millions of people.

There are dozens of pages needing to be filled with your submissions! Each of your articles, photos, and stories related to youth outdoors can include your name and other information including a link to your personal or commercial website address, if you so desire.

If you are not comfortable with your ability to write or maybe you have photos that need attention, but have great potential, we are happy to edit your submissions, so that you will be proud to have them shown here.

Bottom line is this...  Youth Outdoors USA is the opportunity we believe many people across our country have been waiting for...  to make a difference in the outcome of this country, and bring our families back together outdoors!

Thanks so much for giving YOUSA a little bit of your day!


There are very few sources that have such excellent extensive information on all living things!


A Scientific View of the Importance of the Outdoors to Kids

From Children's Outdoor Play & Learning Environments: Returning to Nature

By Randy White & Vicki Stoecklin


Environmental Education

Environmental education needs to start at any early age with hands-on experience with nature. There is considerable evidence that concern for the environment is based on an affection for nature that only develops with autonomous, unmediated contact with it. In their early years, children's developmental tendency towards empathy with the natural world needs to be supported with free access to an area of limited size over an extended period of time. It is only by intimately knowing the wonder of nature's complexity in a particular place that leads to a full appreciation of the immense beauty of the planet as a whole. In todays society, environmental education requires that in schools, children have regular personal interaction with as diverse a natural setting as possible.


The Importance of Nature to Children

Studies have provided convincing evidence that the way people feel in pleasing natural environments improves recall of information, creative problem solving, and creativity. Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked with the development of imagination and the sense of wonder. Wonder is important as a motivator for life long learning. There is also strong evidence that young children respond more positively to experiences in the outdoors than adults as they have not yet adapted to unnatural, man-made, indoor environments.

The natural world is essential to the emotional health of children. Just as children need positive adult contact and a sense of connection to the wider human community, they also need positive contact with nature and the chance for solitude and the sense of wonder that nature offers. When children play in nature they are more likely to have positive feelings about each other and their surroundings.

Outdoor environments are also important to children's development of independence and autonomy. Outdoor space allows children to gradually experiment with increasing distance from their caretaker. While the development of greater independence from toddlerhood to middle childhood can happen within the confines of indoor spaces, safe space outdoors greatly adds to the ability of children to naturally experiment with independence and separation, and the adult's willingness to trust the child's competence which is essential for separation to happen. This is particularly important for children who live in small and crowded homes.


Children's Experience with the Natural World

Children's outdoor play is different from time spent indoors. The sensory experiences are different, and different standards of play apply. Activities which may be frowned on indoors can be safely tolerated outdoors. Children have greater freedom not only to run and shout, but also to interact with and manipulate the environment. Children are free to do 'messy' activities outdoors that won't be tolerated indoors.

Natural outdoor environments have three qualities that are unique and appealing to children as play environments - their unending diversity; the fact that they are not created by adults; and their feeling of timelessness - the landscapes, trees, rivers described in fairy tales and myths still exist today.

Children experience the natural environment differently than adults. Adults typically see nature as background for what they are doing. Children experience nature, not as background for events, but rather as a stimulator and experiential component of their activities. The world of nature is not a scene or even a landscape. Nature for the child is sheer sensory experience. Children judge the natural setting not by its aesthetics, but rather by how they can interact with the environment.

Children have a unique, direct and experiential way of knowingthe natural world as a place of beauty, mystery and wonder. Children's special affinity for the natural environment is connected to the child's development and his or her way of knowing.

Plants, together with soil, sand, and water, provide settings that can be manipulated. You can build a trench in the sand and dirt or a rock dam over a stream, but there's not much you can do to a jungle gym except climb, hang, or fall off. Natural elements provide for open-ended play that emphasize unstructured creative exploration with diverse materials. The high levels of complexity and variety nature offers invites longer and more complex play. Because of their interactive properties, plants stimulate discovery, dramatic pretend play, and imagination. Plants speak to all of the senses, so it's not surprising that children are closely attuned to environments with vegetation. Plants, in a pleasant environment with a mix of sun, shade, color, texture, fragrance, and softness of enclosure also encourage a sense of peacefulness. Natural settings offer qualities of openness, diversity, manipulation, exploration, anonymity and wildness.

All the manufactured equipment and all the indoor instructional materials produced by the best educators in the world cannot substitute for the primary experience of hands-on engagement with nature. They cannot replace the sensory moment where a child's attention is captured by the phenomena and materials of nature: the dappled sparkle of sunlight through leaves, the sound and motion of plants in the wind, the sight of butterflies or a colony of ants, the imaginative worlds of a square yard of dirt or sand, the endless sensory experience of water, the infinite space in an iris flower.


Learning goes into the wild

Nancy Lofholm

The Denver Post

Article Last Updated: 05/09/2008 02:35:28 AM MDT


COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT — "Dude, just look at this. How cool is this?"

Cameron Renteria, 9, is buzzing with excitement over a patch of sandy earth. It's shaded by a twisting juniper and ringed by rocks. It has just enough room for him and two friends to cram onto, unpack their peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, and chatter with bravado about what they'll do if they encounter mountain lions and rattlesnakes.

These boys and many of the 950 other schoolchildren who were bused up the monument recently to take part in Junior Ranger Day have had few, if any, opportunities to explore wild places. To them, nature is a little scary, quite foreign, but a very cool novelty.

More of this tremendous article from the Denver Post



Now, it is my pleasure to introduce Kara Wattunen, who will be in charge of all Youth Outdoors USA activities in Minnesota, and all social networking for us, as well as other responsibilities throughout our website.  Here’s Kara!

“I have spent a tremendous amount of time outdoors since a very young age.  In fact since I was only six months old, I have been accompanying my family on canoe trips into Minnesota's BWCAW.  My passion for hunting began at age 8, and I bagged my first doe at 11!

My love for the outdoors has shaped me in many ways.

Please visit Kara on her page on this website, her blog, YOUSA Minnesota, as well as on Facebook and Twitter!

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