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All children require opportunities for fun, recreation, and play. Playing games and other activities relaxes children and tremendously aids in their development. Through these recreational activities, children learn to explore, experiment, and discover different things.

Play activities can be broadly classified into the following types:

  • Structured or adult-guided play
  • Unstructured, child-directed, or free play

Free play is an unstructured and impromptu activity initiated and directed by a child that involves minimal adult guidance and supervision. Children determine the direction and rules of their play activities. During free play, children have the freedom and opportunity to choose their playmates, the kind of games they want to play, and how they want to play them.

​Free play allows children to express themselves freely without inhibitions; at R.A.D. Camps, we understand the importance of free play and natural playtime for children. We have designed our Summer Day Camps, After School Programs, and HooDoo Night Skiing to encourage free play, fun, and camaraderie in outdoor settings.

During our summer day camp programs, we explore over 50 pristine natural locations in the beautiful mountains and forests of Central Oregon. During the program, children enjoy swimming, climbing, hiking, and playing multiple outdoor games at their own pace.  

Research proves that free or unstructured playtime has numerous benefits. It aids in child development in the following ways.

Nourishes Brain Development and Improves I.Q.

​Children are naturally curious and want to learn and explore their surroundings. Their brains are highly functioning and process information rapidly, compared to the adult brain. Free play provides the perfect opportunity for children to learn and explore new things and use their mental energy to solve problems and polish their cognitive abilities.

During free play, children are exposed to multiple stimulants and challenging situations and use a more significant amount of their mental energy. As a result, children’s brains develop new connections and pathways which improve their Intelligence Quotient. Hence, free play makes children more innovative and more intelligent.

Sharpens Creativity

​On the surface, games and other fun activities may seem like a good source of entertainment only. However, they require a great deal of thinking and creativity. Thinking of new games and playing them according to the rules makes children more creative.

Both indoor and outdoor games are an outlet for children to express their creativity.

​Whether it is an art project or a dress-up game, children use a great deal of innovation under the guise of entertainment. The same goes for outdoor sports such as hide and seek, catching the frisbee, etc.


Improves Social Skills

​During early childhood, children learn essential verbal and non-verbal skills which help them interact with others. Their initial human interaction is limited to family members, namely parents and siblings. However, as they grow, their social circle broadens, interacting with schoolmates and teachers, etc.

Strong communication and social skills go a long way in shaping an individual’s personality. Free play helps children improve their social skills in the following ways:

  • Through collaboration with other children to achieve a common goal.
  • Negotiating the terms of the game and asserting their point of view in the event of a conflict.
  • Listening to others’ opinions and accommodating their perspective.
  • Leading the team or following the lead of another playmate.
  • Learning how to resolve the dispute amicably.
  • Learning to control their outbursts and display more socially acceptable behavior.

To give your child a memorable outdoor experience, enroll them in our R.A.D. Camps summer programs. Our summer day camp programs are located in Bend, Oregon. We have multiple fun-filled trips for children to the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests. Our motto is “no child left inside.” We connect children with nature through fun-filled activities.

For more information, visit our website, contact us, or call us at (541) 410-7258.


Chance is the owner and CEO of R.A.D. Camps in Bend, Oregon. He attended R.A.D. Camps summer programs as a kid and loved it so much he bought the company!