When school lets out for the summer, many families take advantage of the time off and the nice weather to hit the great outdoors. No matter how big or little your kids are, spending time as a family at a national park or forest can be the perfect way to get in some meaningful time together. If you want to make more of your experience outdoors with your children, then try to incorporate some of these activities into your next adventure.
1. Take a Polaroid Camera
Bringing any camera along on a hike is a wonderful way for families with children to really get close to their environment. But, not every camera is as cool as a Polaroid, where the funky pictures come out right away. This certainly makes things more exciting for kinesthetic learners like children. For parents, we all know how hard it can be to make time for putting together a photo album after a trip is over. With a Polaroid, you can easily make an album as you go, while letting your kids be the creative photographers they are!
2. Bring Some Paper and Crayons
One way to have your kids connect with nature is to bring their art box to the outdoors. Just a few sheets of thin paper and some sturdy colored pencils will give your kids plenty of opportunity to make leaf and bark rubs. Parents can later turn their children’s artwork into a gorgeous display piece somewhere in the house.
3. Press Flowers and Leaves in a Book
Take your kids to any stationary or art store and have them pick out a blank-page notebook they like. They can take it with them on your summer family adventures and press flowers and leaves inside of it, so they will always remember the experience.
Bonus: Doing this during the summer is great because all the wildflowers are out and about!
4. Have Your Kids Run the Camp Kitchen
Okay, so if you can’t trust your kid with cooking equipment just yet, we don’t blame you. However, they can help be the campfire chef in other ways. Before you go camping, have children find their own recipes they would want to make. Let them figure out what ingredients they will need in order to cook it (or roast it, if it’s a marshmallow dessert), and have them teach the others in your family how to make it!
5. Read Campfire Tales
This is always a fun thing to do, but it will be even more fun if you get the kids involved. Instead of mom and dad reading a ghost story out of a book this time, why not have the kids think of their own or read one that they found? This will surely be a memorable experience for kids as well as an educational one.
6. Investigate Animal Footprints
This can be a super fun game for both kids and adults. Deep in the wilderness, see if you guys can identify the prints of the forest’s favorite animals. If you’re not sure, take a picture or sketch them out to try to look them up later. Just make sure the kids know that if you see bear prints, you might want to run!
7. Sign Them Up for the Scout Rangers
You might be wondering how exactly this is family-oriented, but a lot of national parks do summer scout programs in addition to longer programs. This would be perfect so your kids can have some fun by themselves while you and your significant other explore a bit on your own.
8. Make Wishes on Shooting Stars
Though there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get to see any, giving your family the chance to catch some shooting stars is a beautiful thing. Visit a national park where you can lay out and see all the stars in the sky. Have the kids make a wish if they can find a shooting star above the. Do it all at Yosemite, which offers something called the Starry Night Tour; a big hit for families, especially during the summer.
Hint: Keep an eye on the news so you can do this when a meteor shower is expected to occur.
9. Do a Thrilling Activity
Most kids are a lot more fearless than we are. One of the most exciting things you can do for them is sign up for a family zip-lining course, a day rafting or canoeing, or rent mountain bikes to cycle on the trails where you are. Not only will the kids have a great time, but they will also probably find it amusing to watch mom and dad give the ropes course a go.
10. Just Be Together
You don’t always need to add an extra activity if you’re already having enough fun just being with each other. Families don’t spend nearly as much time together today as they did ten or twenty years ago. Heading outdoors is a great excuse to make memories with your family, and the summertime allows you to do it as often as you’d like.
Summer won’t last long, so make sure you get out and do these activities with your kids before it’s too late!