Our January Blogger: United Camps, Conferences & Retreats
Emphasizing “Restorative Practices in Nature” at camps & retreat centers to spotlight the natural settings where individuals and groups can stay, play, meet, eat, and relax is a vital invitation to guests.
In 2015, Stanford University conducted a study (published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science) which showed getting out into nature reduces risk for depression and anxiety while increasing cognitive function and memory. In Japan, for example, forest bathing called Shinrin-yoku, is becoming a more integral part of preventative health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
The many camp, conferences and retreat sites located in natural settings provide excellent environments for these practices. In my more than 30 years in the camp and retreat industry, I know we want to help our guests get out and enjoy nature by taking a walk or practicing quiet observation. We know through the studies that have been made in recent years, the many voices in literature, and, of course, our own practices, that spending time in nature helps reduce the stresses of everyday life and promotes well-being. I would venture to say it even inspires and awakens creativity.
We provide a simple Restorative Practices in Nature card for guests to utilize during their visit. The guides include simple activities such as Silent Observation, Wildlife Watching, Meditative Walking, and more. We hope our guests will take even a few minutes during their stay with us to go outside and walk or sit in nature in quiet and breathe, listen, relax.
Most retreat centers or camps were built by a spiritual or non-profit organization which believed in the potential of nature to provide a peaceful, calming, and inspirational setting to its visitors.
Recognizing the essential perspective of these camp and retreat property owner groups who counted on nature’s tranquility to provide the better part of their program, the opportunity to put away our phones and computers and enjoy the simplicity of the wind fanning the trees, is truly calming the body, mind, and spirit.
Rev. Tina Heck is the Director of Reservations & Communications for United Camps, Conferences & Retreats, a non profit camp and retreat property management organization.