It’s been 3.5 months since we became full-time campers (and we only have a couple of months left, eek). We’ve had our ups and downs learning the way of RV life, but so far, I’d have to say I highly recommend it. One of the many reasons that we chose this out-of-the-box lifestyle is to encourage our kids to appreciate the outdoors and learn more about nature. We didn’t choose this lifestyle to simply live in a camper; we chose to sleep in a camper and live outdoors. I strongly feel like this experience has been a gift to our kids and hope that they cherish these memories as they grow into adults.
There are several research-based studies that show the benefits of simply spending time outdoors. It’s relaxing, reduces stress, and not to mention, it’s free. Which means zero dollars spent so if things go south, at the very least, you’ve got nothing to lose.
I know that most of you busy parents reading this can’t just drop everything willy nilly and move into a camper full-time, but I would like to challenge you to at least carve out time, unplug from the world and connect with your kids by opting outside.
Here are six simple ways to get your kids off the couch and into the great outdoors.
Junior Ranger Program – Most State and National parks offer some type of Junior Ranger or Junior Explorer program. This is an excellent opportunity to not only have fun outside with the different activities included but to expand a childs’ education about the world around them. The kids even get a badge/pin at the end! Contact your local park about their programs and get involved.
And, oh, they get sworn in upon completion which is pretty official if you ask me.
Pick a Park – Even if your kids don’t partake in the Junior Ranger program, your nearest State or National park can give you details on events that are coming up in their park. These events are mostly free (or cheap), always fun and packed with educational information.
Picnic – Who doesn’t love a picnic? Grab a blanket, make some sammies and grab a jug of sweet lemonade for a relaxing picnic outside. During the season of homeschooling we are in right now, we will pack up and spend the morning at a local state park while the girls do their work and finish up with a picnic lunch. It’s a simple kind of life and I like it that way.
How cute is my barefoot Bean learning how to walk at one of our local state parks?
Nature Walks & Observations – One of the easiest ways to get your kids outside is to take them on a simple nature walk. Find your nearest nature trail or take a safe trek in the woods. Observing your local birds and wildlife first hand is a fun way to spend time outdoors. One of my favorite resources for getting ideas of activities that encourage my kids to get into nature is ‘The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms‘. The Nature Connection suggests activities pertaining to the seasons, has wonderful illustrations and is extremely educational. The book also provides journal space and online links to access free printables that go along with the book.
Fly a Kite – Most of us have kites at home, but if you don’t, kites are fairly inexpensive and a good way to spend time outdoors. We’ve flown plenty of kites while living near breezy coastlines. Often times you can find a kite tucked in the trunk of my car for spontaneous kite flying afternoons.
Camping – Yes, go camping. You can do it! It’s good for ya. Tent camping is such an adventure but if it’s a camper you’re looking for, you can find RV’s for rent by owner on rvshare.com (if you’re interested in a camp-cation on the Emerald Coast, contact me to rent our very own “Bunkhouse Bessy”). If you’re looking for ideas and activities to amp up your camping experience for your kids, check out one of my favorite camping books, ‘Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids’ Guide‘ for endless activities, games and even campfire recipes that your whole family will enjoy.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity with your kids?