Come on lets go and play
At this time of year when things get a little hectic or stressful many of you may be busy running around buying toys, wrapping them, and giving them, but are any of you playing with them? I am talking to you, the adults in the room and maybe even some of you teens. Hillel Cooperman gave a TED Talk where he describes The Dark Ages as “the time between when you put away the Lego for the last time as a kid and [when] you decide as an adult that is it okay to play with a kid’s toy.” How many of you are still living in The Dark Ages?
One of the best parts of my job during the summer is getting to live in a community where play is totally acceptable behavior for all ages. It feels great to let loose and act silly. Everywhere you look campers are finding ways to play with a cardboard box or a pack of mustaches. Is it raining outside? No problem! Let’s make up a game where you are safe from being out only if you are sitting in a puddle.
Recently I watched a TED Talk by Steve Keil citing the many benefits of play including one study that found that rats that play more have bigger brains and learn tasks better. He goes on to state that bears that learn to play more survive longer than bears that learn how to fish better. Moving on to humans he cites research that shows play in humans improves emotions, cognition, emotional maturity and decision making ability. For school children recess is a time to go outside and play, returning to the classroom with better mindsets and focus.
What happens when we grow older and are no longer allowed a recess for play? When camp is not in season I work in an office where it is more of a challenge for me to get my daily dose of play. Steve Keil suggests treating lunch like the recess for work. On my lunch breaks I like to go home to my dog, Miles, for an energizing game of chase in the back yard. Other ways I like to add play to my life are by my husband and I making up silly song lyrics to the music we listen to while cooking dinner. We have made a game of going to the grocery store. Strategically splitting up our shopping list and timing ourselves to see how fast we can get in and get out. Sixteen minutes is the record so far. If all else fails, we go to the humane society and play with a room full of kittens.
A great quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin is “We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” So, for the rest of this year and the new year approaching find little ways to add play to your everyday life.
Krista White, Camp Program Manager