Engaging with nature: Nature affords well-being for families and young people in Finland

Outi Rantala, Riikka Puhakka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Contact with nature is increasingly being recognized as contributing to humans’ mental and physical health. This study explores how Finnish children, young people and families engage with nature during outdoor recreation. We apply a relational approach with the concept of affordance to understand better how engagement with nature affects their well-being. The study is based on thematic writings of 15- to 21-year-olds and on an ethnographic study of camping. Findings indicate that engagement with nature enables young people to calm down and to get away from the pressures of everyday life and affords close interaction for families. The relational approach makes visible that the more young people and families spend time in nature, the more they are able to perceive affordances that enhance their well-being. In future research and policy, the focus should be on how to support families’ engagement with nature by securing time and places for encountering nature.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChildren’s Geographies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Oct 2019
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • affordance
  • relationality
  • well-being
  • children
  • young people
  • outdoor recreation

Field of science

  • Social and economic geography


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