Those of us in the parks and recreation and camp businesses know how important it is for kids to get outside and play.
And we're lucky enough to get to see how kids thrive and grow through playful interaction with nature and each other.
But American children aren't getting outdoors enough, and that is creating a "play deficit."
This month, more than 200 experts will gather at Clemson University to explore the value of play. The Conference on the Value of Play will take place Feb. 6-9 at Clemson's Madren Conference Center.
This year's conference follows last year's Summit on the Value of Play, which led to the creation of the US Play Coalition.
"This year we're attracting a broad spectrum of people who share concerns about the play deficit in our children," said Fran Mainella, a visiting scholar at Clemson who co-chairs the US Play Coaltion.
"This conference provides a venue for people and organizations to learn from each other and coordinate efforts to bring back play in the lives of all people," Mainella said. "And not just children."
"We believe play is a basic human need and the foundation of strong intellectual, physical and emotional development. Play is essential to a person reaching his or her full potential," she said.
Conference speakers will cover topics such as how to recapture recess and how the medical profession views play. Education sessions will range from women's perspective on hunting to advocating for play on the local level to inspiring play spaces for everyone.
The featured speaker will be Joe Frost, professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, who is an internationally known expert and lecturer on child development issues related to play and playgrounds.