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Do kids spend enough time outside these days? While some children may get plenty of fresh air and sunshine, many others do not. For some of us, getting our kids outside is a bit of a struggle. And my children are not alone, which is why we have programs like National Get Outdoors Day and things like Great Outdoors Month.
Aside from the fact that sunshine is a biological *need* for the production of vitamin D, along with the other health benefits of time spent outside, the real question I ask myself is this: “Am I raising children who appreciate and value nature? Am I raising children who can enjoy time spent outdoors?”
For those of you who find yourself asking the same types of questions, National Get Outdoors Day (or GO Day) is a great excuse for getting the kids off the sofas and into nature. Go Day happens on June 9th this year (but the entire month of June is Great Outdoors Month.)
5 Ways to Get Your Kids Outside for National Get Outdoors Day
#1 – Visit Your Local Park
Take a nature walk, roller blade, skate board, fly kites, kick around a ball, or have a picnic. If your children have any interests or skills (like bike riding or skateboarding,) use those to your advantage and just take those interests to the park. Ideally, your outdoor activity would be great exercise, too, but if your children prefer to sit and sketch the things they see or photograph nature through the lens of their camera, I would argue that there is value in that kind of outdoor activity, too.
#2 – Go Camping
Camping provides all sorts of opportunities to explore and enjoy nature. Hike, fish, and spend some family time together in the woods. After a day of hiking and exploring, gather around the campfire with songs and conversation. On the other hand, if you’re a bit challenged in the camping gear department, you could also make a day trip out of it, without the needs for tents and sleeping bags, etc.
#3 – Visit the Nearest State or National Park
Alternatively, you could have fun traveling to one a little farther away. Use the “Find a Park” feature at the National Park Service website to help you find one near you. To find the state parks service for your state, Google search “state parks” and your state name, and then browse through their directory. (For example, you can find the Texas Parks and Wildlife Page here.)
#4 – Go Geocaching
Many parks and outdoor areas have a variety of hidden geocaching treasures to find. Geocaching is a good option for older kids who feel too big for a park day, and it’s a great activity to do with friends for all the conversation it creates while you walk and search for hidden treasures. Create a free account at Geocaching.com and then download the free app to get started. (You can find more objects with a paid account, but you can keep it completely free, too!)
#5 – Host a Backyard Barbecue
If you’re not up for traveling, you can enjoy the nature outside your own home by hosting a backyard barbecue–complete with lawn games, water sprinklers, or whatever else your family will enjoy doing together outside. Invite friends and family over to enjoy the day with you. After all, getting outside starts at home in your own back yard, doesn’t it?
Keep It Going
Getting outside for National Get Outdoors Day is a great way to get your kids outside–but how can you keep that going? To keep your kids in touch with nature, look for outdoor hobbies and interests to foster and encourage. Skateboarding should only be done outside (or else face the wrath of mom,) so naturally an interest in skateboarding will include more fresh air and sunshine. What hobbies do your children have an interest in which they might be able to pursue, and which hobbies might you be able to pursue together as a family?
Find something you love doing that happens outside, fan those flames, and you might find yourself outside more frequently with less effort.
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