According to a study released by The Outdoor Foundation, more than 137 million Americans participated in outdoor recreational activities last year. That figure represents nearly 50 percent of all Americans, age six and older.
However, the study failed to illustrate the growing inactivity crisis among our youth and the alarming disconnect that has been occurring nationwide between children and the outdoors.
In less than a generation, the United States has become a very mobile and consumptive nation. The average American household now has at least two cars in the garage, and often three. There are also about 2.7 cell phones per household and we use them more often than our landlines.
Over the same timeframe, the average number of bicycles owned has shrunk dramatically, nationwide. In the 1960s, 60 to 70 percent of students who lived within two miles walked or took a bike to school. Now, it's down to less than 9 percent and bike racks have been replaced by student parking lots.
As one student recently explained, "Bikes are fun, but not for school. If you're 16 and still riding a bike to school ... well, it's just not too cool."
Today's young men and women are aptly described as the "Digital Generation." They came of age at a time when the world was connected as never before.
With the advent of computers, the Internet and cellular phones, today's youth are encapsulated and ensnared by a technological bubble. Childhood has changed dramatically.
Today's kids consider radio an ancient technology. As explained to me by an earphone-wagging fan, "Why wait for a DJ to play a song I like, when my iPod is already full of them?"
Modern day children are extremely well-connected. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study reveals the average kid consumes 2.5 hours of music each day, as well as nearly five hours of TV and DVD movies, three hours of Internet and video games, and just 38 minutes of old-fashioned reading. The report did not even consider the time kids spent on the phone or texting and yet the average kid is currently connected for a combined 11.5 hours per day.