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Tips for getting your family outdoors this summer

June 11, 2015 | Dave Criswell

Don’t let kids have all the fun!

SUMMER!!  Summer!  Summmmmmmmer.  Does your level of summer break excitement start to turn to shades of panic when you realize those long lazy days aren’t quite so lazy (but they sure can be long)?  Do your kids are stare at you, waiting for one of your brilliant ideas for something to do?  Do you stare back at your kids hoping for one of your (or anyone else’s) fabulous ideas to pop into your head?  You know the more time your family spends outside, the happier and healthier they’ll be, but it can be daunting coming up with ways to get that much-needed outdoor time.  Well, there’s no need to dread those summer days.  We’ve got some great ideas to fill the time, and with a little planning, you’ll be on the road, path or trail to fun!

Unstructured versus structured outdoor time

We know unstructured playtime is critical to help kids develop creativity, learn responsible decision-making and expand their social skills – and, if you don’t believe me, just read our post, 5 reasons why your child needs unstructured outdoor play time.  We also know that it’s important to have planned outdoor time with the entire family every day, but . . . and why is there always a “but” . . . it requires a bit of effort.  Let’s face it, sometimes, if it’s not planned, it’s not going to happen. sup parent day While unstructured outdoor time means heading outside with no plan, schedule or agenda, structured outdoor time requires some organization on your part.  Come on, don’t groan.  It’s not painful; I promise.  It’s easier than you think, and we’ve got some terrific suggestions for planning structured ways to get outside with your family every day.

Ready?  Set?  Get outside!

Have you ever had this conversation with your family?  “What do you want to do today?”  “I don’t know.  What do you want to do?”  It’s stunning how many times those sentences can go around and around.  Spare yourself that inevitable frustration, and be prepared by doing some research ahead of time to have an immediate answer to the “What do you want to do” question. nature Set a goal to get outside 3 times a week and do a family outdoor activity using your local biking and hiking trails.  We’re not talking about getting in your car and driving for hours to get to a destination.  No matter where you live, there are plenty of local options.  You just have to find them, and we’re here to help with some suggestions.

Colorado outdoor enthusiasts

Check out the following web sites to look for the best trails for your family:

If you want to skip the research for now, head out to a few of our favorite spots:

  • Want to relax and spend an hour (or more) exploring nature?  Mud Lake in Nederland is the perfect place for your family to have a quick escape.  With hiking, biking, horseback riding, and dog-friendly trails, your entire family will enjoy this gem.  Have a little more time?  Bring a picnic and relax by the lake!
  • Feel like fishing, biking or hiking and maybe seeing mule deer, bald eagles and coyotes?  If so, Chatfield State Park needs to be your destination.  With extraordinary views of the foothills, Chatfield is a popular spot throughout the year.

marin biking California outdoor enthusiasts

Check out the following web sites to look for the best trails for your family:

  Feel like just bouncing out for a bit and saving the investigation for later?  Check out:

  • Visit California’s oldest state park and experience sensory overload in the best possible way!  With over 80 miles of trails, Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the South Bay area will surround you with scenic views, tranquil settings and magnificent waterfalls.  There are hikes for all levels and skills, so there’s no need to feel intimidated.
  • Treat your family to the awesome hiking and climbing that Mount Diablo State Park in Clayton has to offer.  If you’d like to see natural wildlife, try the Deer Flat trail or, if you prefer to see fossils, explore Fossil Ridge.  Maybe large sandstone formations and small caves sound interesting, Rock City is for you.  The overlooks, observation deck and summits are bound to peak interests for future visits!

When you’re researching, don’t forget to look for local online newspapers, which typically have articles and sections on things to do outdoors just for your area. kayaking explore Outdoor enthusiasts everywhere

No matter where you live, check out the following web sites to look for the best local trails for your family.  Just enter your location, and off you go:

  Be creative and get outdoors So now you have the resources but what are some easy ways to slip outdoor time into your family’s daily life?  How about:

  • Biking to the library or the store to run errands.
  • Walking to the park after dinner for a game of Frisbee, kite flying or catch.
  • Taking the kids on a neighborhood scavenger hunt – maybe with a nature or a general outdoor theme.
  • Heading over to the school playground for a picnic and play evening.
  • Biking or walking to a local event.
  • Grabbing your dog and heading out for a stroll.

We know it can be challenging to find a balance between work and play, but it’s so important for your well-being.  Whether you have 30 minutes, a few hours or an entire day, there’s something for your family to do outside.  With just a little bit of planning, you and your family will weave outdoor activities into your daily life with ease!  Think about creating an outdoor family calendar and writing down 3 activities per week to get outside and visit local resources  – and commit to it! sup staff Avid4 Adventure’s mission is to empower kids (and their families, too!) for a lifetime of activity outdoors!  If your kiddo has already participated in camp this season, check out our suggestions on how to Continue the Adventure with the entire family where you can find helpful information on all sorts of camp and outdoor resources.

About the Author: Lynne Marsala Basche spent most of her career on the island of Manhattan at two New York publishing companies.  A multi-year Avid4 Adventure mom and a new contributor to the Avid4 Adventure website, Lynne’s writing adventures also take her to championing volunteerism and regional recreation stories as a staff writer for the Castle Pines Connection newspaper, as well as supporting separate large corporate communications programs.  By trying to keep pace with her mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, lacrosse playing, unicycling, tae kwon do-loving 11-year old son, she, like most Avid4 parents, loves sharing the value of outdoor recreation and its positive influence on children’s health and confidence development.  Lynne lives in Castle Pines, Colorado and regularly immerses herself in outdoor activities with her family where she also runs her freelance writing company, Blue Spruce Creative

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