There is a great big world out there ready to be explored and inspire our kids. This past week we did just that, we decided to get on out there and engage the great outdoors. We were able to do this as a family of 6 and with some friends that joined in. Who knew that when kids are in touch with nature that they develop a new respect for the environment?
Discover Your Own Yard
With busy schedules, sports commitments, homework and studying, it can sure feel challenging to get your kids outside. You literally have to make the time, so waking up on a Saturday and planning this hike was just about perfect. In San Diego we have an abundance of trails and mountains to explore. This time we chose the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve. Who knew this was one of the largest urban parks in the United States, featuring so much plant life, bird life and more?! It’s roughly 4,000 acres and stretches about 7 miles. No matter where you live, you can be sure you can find some cool areas to hike. We are planning to pick a new one each week.
Be a Mini Citizen Environmentalist
A fun activity for the kids is to create a list of the various species that could be seen and they can check off as they go. On our hike there were more than 500 plant species, more than 175 types of birds, and a great variety of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Many of these species are rare or endangered and are protected within the Preserve. The kids loved calling out if they saw something on the list. I didn’t like the sounds of the snakes, but tried to not mention that one.
Next time I will try the app Project Noah, which is an app that kids can keep track of their wildlife sitings. The kids get patches as they document their sitings.
The Benefits oF Exercising Outdoors
I think its fair to say that most parents today spent their childhood outside playing and riding bikes. Living in a tech world, it is a bit different and to get the kids away from the tv is the goal. According to the US Department of health, they say our kids need at least one hour of vigorous activity and doing this outside strengthens their immune system and provides the adequate amount of vitamin D. Being outside gives kids the opportunity to run, jump, climb, swim, dance and more. It also goes beyond physical benefits, being outside reduces stress for kids and promotes creativity.
Making Decisions as A Family
I noticed the kids loved paving the way for our family adventure. They enjoyed taking turns being in charge of which direction we would go and when one felt overheated we made decisions to take a break in the shade. They shared some healthy protein bars and replenished with water. We also brought a big water bowl for our dog. We worked through the vigorous hike supporting each other along the way.
Getting out there with the kids really helped motivate my reluctant explorers. They started to follow my lead. The more excited I was, the more excited my kids started to be. Collecting things along the way was fun too. Bringing a bucket for the kids to collect was another great motivator. They all know, I don’t go anywhere without my camera and photography is a passion of mine documenting our day-to-day. I told them it was mommy’s photo safari. I also gave them a chance as well, to take pictures as we explored.
Overall, it was a win win for all of us. The exercise and the sunshine were great for our souls. And if you are not sure where to go, All Trails can give you some suggestions to what is closest to you. I would love to hear how you get out with your kids, comment below.