Newswise — WACO, Texas (March 22, 2017) – As the nation inches into springtime and people begin to plan their summer vacations, a Baylor University recreation expert encourages trip planners to make time for outdoor adventures.

Christopher Wynveen, Ph.D., associate professor of recreation and leisure services in Baylor University’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, focuses his research on the human dimensions of natural resource management.

“Our country has some of the world’s best parks and forests,” Wynveen said. “Take time to visit a state or national park or forest this summer to get away from everyday stress, be active and build memories with family and friends.”

He shared four tips to help people enjoy and experience the great outdoors this spring and summer.

1. Share an experience with family and friends.

“Sharing experiences outdoors with family in friends is beneficial to each of the people individually, strengthens relationships between the individuals, and it even may help to protect the resource,” Wynveen said. “When recreating with others we are more active which has numerous health benefits to all involved. We also build trust and stronger relationships when we share experiences. And by recreating outdoors we share our values with family and friends about the importance of protecting the places we visit.

“When we have positive interactions with people in an outdoor setting, we assign meanings to that setting. In turn, the place becomes special to us and we tend to care for the place. When we care for a place we are more likely to want to protect it. Therefore, spending time in natural resource places with people recreating tends to increase our desire to protect it for ourselves and future generations.”

Recommendation: Develop memories or establish a tradition to pass down by camping in a state park or visiting historical sites like the Texas State Railroad.

2. Appreciate the natural beauty of the world around you.

“Many of us do not realize the natural beauty in our own backyards or at nearby parks and forests. Research has shown that just viewing natural landscapes has positive impacts on our physical and mental health. Spending time appreciating nature also helps us understand why it is important to invest in protecting landscapes and wildlife for our kids and grandkids to enjoy.”

Recommendation: See the desert flowers bloom in Big Bend National Park (early spring) or the bluebonnets in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site in Texas.

3. Visit a pristine environment and escape the everyday.

“Going to a federal wilderness area or other natural area off the beaten path is a great way to unplug,” Wynveen said. “Visiting more remote natural areas allows you to have an excuse not to check your email, social media or get a call from work. Many people who take a short vacation in such places report that the break from the everyday helps them feel refreshed, more creative and more productive when returning to home and work.”

Recommendation: Escape to a wilderness area by visiting the Big Slough Wilderness or Indian Mounds Wilderness before the heat comes in the summer.

4. See a unique resource and fulfill your curiosity.

“Humans are naturally curious. People from around the world come to the United States to see our parks and forests because they hold some of the best examples of what natural, historical and cultural resources we have to offer,” Wynveen said. “Several of my students have developed career interests because of a visit to a park as a child. Bring your family and friends and spark their imagination at one of our national treasures.”

Recommendation: Visit places like the Waco Mammoth National Monument to see Columbian Mammoth fossils.

ABOUT CHRISTOPHER WYNVEEN, Ph.D.Christopher Wynveen, Ph.D., is an associate professor of recreation and leisure services in Baylor University’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. His research focuses on the human dimensions of natural resource management – specifically, how the thoughts and feelings people ascribe to natural resources lead them to protect the environment, especially coastal and marine resources. Other research interests include recreation behavior as it relates to the management of parks and other protected areas as well as the evaluation of grassroots conservation projects. His professional recreation experience includes over 10 years of youth camp experience and management. Each May he leads Baylor’s study abroad program to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef region.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITYBaylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

ABOUT THE ROBBINS COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SCIENCES After more than three years of evaluation and input from Baylor regents, deans, faculty and staff, and external entities, the Baylor Board of Regents approved the creation of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences on May 16, 2014. This was also a direct result of identified priorities for strengthening the health sciences through Baylor’s strategic vision, Pro Futuris, which serves as a compass for the University’s future. The anchor academic units that form the new College – Communication Sciences and Disorders, Family and Consumer Sciences and Health, Human Performance and Recreation – share a common purpose: improving health and the quality of life. The new College is working to create curricula that will promote a team-based approach to patient care and will establish interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. For more information visit