Bright sunshine, a fresh breeze, warm weather and the sounds of birds tweeting are just a few of the great things about summer. The gorgeous weather alone is compelling enough to tempt anyone off the couch and I am making it a point to get my family outdoors and active all summer long. Valley Forge National Park is very close to us and we’re lucky to have smaller parks nearby as well.
Did you know that children have lost 25% of playtime and 50% of unstructured outdoor activity over recent decades, as rates of obesity and related diseases climbed? Children who spend more time outdoors experience benefits to their mental and physical well-being that indoor activities can’t match. And it’s parents and family who are most influential in getting them there.
Outdoor play contributes to lower stress levels and more active imaginations, helps children become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems and have greater respect for themselves and for others. Furthermore, those who spend childhood in nature are more likely to become our environmental stewards of the future, ensuring such benefits for generations to come.
If you’re not convinced yet, check out Discover the Forest.org; they have everything you need to plan your perfect day outdoors. Not sure where you’re closest park or forest is? Use the Where to Go guide to find the closest slice of the great outdoors nearest you. Never really explored the great outdoors before? Don’t fear, there is a special Before You Go page that gives you a packing list of what to bring and prepare, a helpful list of Do’s and Don’ts, estimated costs for your visit, and how to respect the forest and “leave it as you found it.”
Check out these great PSAs that are sure to get you outdoors STAT:
So what to do when you get there? The options are endless! Create rubbings of leaves you spot along your way, try to match the tracks an animal has left behind or try to identify an animal by the sounds it makes! Bring a camera along and take photos of your surroundings. Make sure to download and print the Book of Stuff to Do Outside before you go so you can plan the fun ahead of time. Make sure you participate in #ForestFriday: Share photos and quotes about forests and getting outdoors on social media every Friday, if you share with the hashtag #ForestFriday.
For more information on Discover the Forest, please visit http://www.discovertheforest.org/