Like the mountains families often play in, there are ups and downs, and a few flats, in youth participation in the outdoors. According to the Outdoor Foundation’s recently released 2011 Outdoor Participation Report, there was no significant growth in 2010 in terms of kids getting outdoors, but there were also significant drops as in years past…
Here is some of the report’s findings:
For the first time, participation among youth ages 6 to 12 remained flat instead of falling.
For the third year in a row, participation in outdoor recreation among teenage boys ages 13 to 17 remained steady at 66 percent. Unfortunately, participation among boys ages 6 to 12 continued to slide in 2010, and participation among young men ages 18 to 24 lost last year’s two-point gain, dipping back down to 59 percent.
Girls’ participation rates showed improvement, holding steady at 58 percent for girls ages 6 to 17.
Outdoor participation among 6 to 17 year olds was stagnant or fell in 2010. Participation rates remained the same in all of the most popular outdoor activities, except biking which dipped from 29 percent in 2009 to 27 percent in 2010.
The good news is that those youth who did participate in the outdoors got outside more often. In 2010, youth made 3.04 billion excursions into the outdoors at an average of 98 outings per participant. This is up from 2.68 billion outings and an average of 87 outings per participant in 2009.
However, youth still don’t spend enough time outdoors. Thirty-seven percent of youth “outdoor participants” only take part in an outdoor activity less than twice a month.
Youth and adolescents are motivated to get outside simply because they think “outdoor
activities are cool.” While the cool factor is still present in young adults, slightly more
participants in this age group cite exercise as their top motivator for outdoor participation.
The study finds that youth and adolescents also go outside because their relatives participate in outdoor activities.
Why Kids Don’t Recreate Outdoors
Lack of time is a major reason why American youth don’t get outdoors more often. Youth ages 6 to 12 equally blame time spent at school and poor weather conditions. Not having the right gear is the next biggest concern. Adolescents age 13 to 17 also blame time at school as their number one reason why they don’t get outside, which is closely followed by a preference to hang out with friends. Those ages 18 to 24 cite not
having appropriate gear as the main reason for not getting outdoors and not enough
vacation time as the second biggest reason.
Most Popular Outdoor Activities for Youth Ages 6-17
Biking: 27 %
Car/Backyard/RV camping: 23 %