Great Outdoors Month
In April 2010, President Obama announced America’s Great Outdoor Initiative. The efforts of this project are focused on awareness and conservation of land and water. But, more than that – by creating a strong connection between Americans and the outdoors and through the expansion of parks and other green spaces, we can also increase our country’s efforts to preserve and conserve.
Young people today are extremely active in environmental efforts involving preservation and conservation. There are many – simple – things we can do to encourage this quality in our children.
National Get Outdoors Day is an annual event encouraging outdoor activity. There are many official site locations throughout the United States. If you are unable to locate a site in your area, it is easy to nominate one. Do something different and turn your children on to a new experience in the great outdoors. Visit a public land reserve you have never been to. Find a waterfall, a canyon, or a forest that is just a day’s drive away.
For most states, June is a great time of year to be outside. Barbeques, picnics, and walks in the woods are great ways to spend family time outside. During this month, you will find promotions for camping, National Trails Day encouraging hiking, and National Fishing and Boating Week. All of these activities are fun for the family and lead to an increased appreciation of the outdoors.
June also means summer vacation, and many of us take off in our cars for family getaways. Think about stopping at a National Park on your way to visit the extended family. Fee-Free Day in National Parks occurs in June, so make sure you plan accordingly.
The National Wildlife Federation has a Summer Activity Kit with all sorts of ideas for fun, outdoor entertainment. Their suggestions include camping in the backyard, bug bingo, or – one of my favorites - planting a garden. When children become involved in the planting, the tending, and the harvesting – they may also be more likely to become involved in the eating! A garden is a great way to get the family outdoors and to increase the feelings of gratitude for all that we have.
Volunteering at a local forest preserve, a community playground, or a nearby hiking trail will also strengthen the relationship your children have with mother Earth. Organizing a group to help clean up these areas send a strong message to your children. They will feel proud to have helped and will see, firsthand, how their efforts have an impact.
Start a new family tradition. Try an outdoor adventure you have never experienced before. Perhaps you’ll go on a whitewater-rafting trip, try out a canoe, or go camping for the first time. Maybe it’s fly fishing, going on a boat trip, or hiking a mountain that you’d like to try. Create opportunities to appreciate nature in a new way.
Even if you have a phobia of bugs, there are ways to instill a love of the outdoors in your children. Visit a farm, the zoo, or take your children to the playground. Rent an RV, see an IMAX nature-focused movie, or get books out at the library. Just make sure you spend some time outdoors while reading those books!
By encouraging and helping our children create a relationship with the outdoors, we are taking measures to ensure that the Earth will continued to be cared for.
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