Summer is here, and after a year of remote learning and cabin fever, we’re sure your children couldn’t be more excited to get out and go. In addition to a change of scenery, the benefits of outdoor activity include fresh air, exercise, and a boost of vitamin D, so here are some ideas to help get the kids (and you!) outside and moving.
Fully unplug and take a trip out into nature! A short hike is great for a day trip, or you could pack for a longer adventure and camp out for a while. This is a great way to help kids learn to appreciate nature, and the perfect opportunity to teach them to respect it with the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace. To help make each principle easier to remember, kids can learn the fun hand motions in this video! And be sure to follow them yourself, especially when it comes to planning ahead and preparing—look up and follow the relevant travel and safety guidelines, do your research so you know what to expect if hours or services change, and bring any supplies you might need (such as snacks or refillable water bottles to stay hydrated). Other groups may have the same idea, so try to avoid overcrowding and check out these tips for handling outdoor crowds.
For those with busier lifestyles, less equipment, or kids who aren’t very outdoorsy, backyard camping is a great way to get a taste of the outdoors without going too far from home. There are a few different ways to bring the campground to you instead; maybe you can set up a tent and let the kids sleep outside, or cook campfire recipes in your kitchen. If you can safely build a fire, roasting s’mores is an iconic choice of activity for that classic camping feel. If you can’t, a microwave version of the recipe tastes just as sweet, and you can bring the desserts outside with something like these kid-friendly DIY paper luminaries for that firelit atmosphere.
Finally, yard games are a great way to entertain kids—with just a little setup, you can transform an everyday space into a brand new experience. There are plenty of ways to repurpose household items for this: glue down empty bottles for a ring toss, or assign a point value to each piece of your mixing bowl set and arrange them for a bean bag toss. Combine water guns, plastic cups, and string for a carnival-esque water cup race, and the whole family can enjoy a game of Kubb with a simple wooden DIY set. The sky’s the limit!
With all of these possibilities before you, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy nature with the kids, so take advantage of the weather and head outdoors this summer!
This post was created in collaboration with The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.