You may have heard people talking about being outside for 1000 hours, and thought them possibly somewhat extreme. Who on earth wants to stay outside for 1000 hours. And why? 1000 hours is a long time!
It’s the 1000 Hours Outside Movement. The core goal of the movement is to get kids outside for 1000 hours a year.
You just did some quick mental math there…. didn’t you? Broken down equally, 1000 hours a year breaks down to 2.7 hours a day, or 19.2 hours a week. Most families trying this aim for about four to six hours a day, three to four days a week.
1000 Hours Outside is a global movement, based on an effort to match the time spent outside with the time the average American Child spends in front of a screen. Statistically, the Average American Child spends roughly 1200 hours a year in front of a screen. This is a pre-pandemic statistic. Children learn in nature. Being outside, playing, helps children develop on all levels: physically, socially, academically, and emotionally. The founders of the movement, Ginny and Josh Yurich, maintain “that nature – big beautiful, bountiful nature – is the absolute and very BEST reprieve for you and your children.” Ginny and Josh have five children under twelve, and live in Southeast Michigan. They started their movement after questioning why they saw so few children at city, country, and state parks, or at trails and campsites.
The emphasis of the movement is on Nature Play: free time in nature. Children will seek out learning opportunities on their own given the chance.
You can get downloadable tracker sheets on the website, and read others’ experiences of their time outside as they try to embrace this lifestyle. There are plenty of tips there too, such as “How to Find the Hidden Nature Gems Near You,” and information on the benefits of free time in nature, such as how good sunlight is for your mental health.
For many people, even contemplating spending 1000 hours a year outside is laughable, and seems unattainable. So, if you haven’t spent much time outside recently, maybe pick a small goal, maybe an hour a day. Or a half hour. Or fifteen…..
At its core, this challenge is totally grounded in privilege. This is not going to happen if you are working two jobs, kids in daycare from open-to-close, big-city-highrise life. This is a judgment-free zone: I’ve been there. It requires a privileged life to be able to spend four to six hours a day, three to four days a week.
Nevertheless, the fundamental premise of this challenge, is that kids thrive outside. Adults thrive outside too, although this challenge started as a way to emphasize the benefits to children of learning outside. Maybe there should be a 365 Hours Outside Challenge. Just spend an hour outside every day.
Check out the project online at: 1000hoursoutside.com. There are many groups on social media as well.