Did you know that play is about more than just “fun and games?” You might have heard that “play is children’s work,” and maybe you’ve realized that play often boils down to having spontaneous fun, but what makes play beneficial? What about the long term benefits of play?
It turns out there is a ton of research indicating that play is very important for human beings, even essential for our well being throughout our lives, from childhood through adulthood. One leader of this research and an advocate of what we might call “play for all,” is Dr. Stuart Brown, MD. He is the founder of the National Institute for Play, an organization
“committed to bringing the unrealized knowledge, practices and benefits of play into public life. [The Institute] is gathering research from diverse play scientists and practitioners, initiating projects to expand the clinical scientific knowledge of human play and translating this emerging body of knowledge into programs and resources which deliver the transformative power of play to all segments of society.”
One general conclusion Dr. Brown’s research has shown is a strong correlation between adult success and play. Language skills, thinking skills, and of course, social skills all benefit from unstructured play. And since these are crucial areas for adults as well, it’s important to develop a habit of playing throughout our lives. We can improve these adult level skills by continuing to play.
Here’s a great video of Stuart Brown giving a lecture about the importance of play. He argues that “play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.”
We like this a lot. It verifies something we’ve been talking about for years; play, and in particular outdoor play, is really important. More than just entertainment, it’s a powerful benefit for children’s health and happiness. This research helps us understand how these benefits extend far into adulthood as well. Naturally, camp is the perfect place to experience all of this. Free from the over-structured, over-scheduled nature of school, and free from boredom-inducing electronic media, camp provides daily opportunities for play. Children are so much better for it.
Hey, don’t forget to play!