"Kids everywhere don't get enough nature-based play," said Hai. "There are plenty of organized sports, but kids miss out on non-structured opportunities to play and be creative."
Fewer school recess opportunities for children combined with a general trend away from enjoying the out-of-doors may be correlated with an increase in obesity, higher drop-out rates from organized sports, and greater stress in kids. Hai sees the participants of this conference (both presenters and educators) as "pioneers" in the movement to get kids back outside.
"It's just nice to be surrounded by other people who believe in this approach to working with kids," said Joe San Antonio, who works with kids in Hamilton County.
With the success of the first event, he believes that it was truly beneficial and that, "all participants will want to come back for more and will recommend this conference to others."
"The day was very well-organized and I loved the new games activities with all their energy and creativity," said Kelly Nessle of Johnsburg, who has been working to provide outdoor activities for kids with the TREKS organization.
Hai noted how diverse the populations of presenters and educators were, and indicated how much he appreciated their support of this very noble effort - returning kids to the world of creative play.