Don't over-program. Kids benefit from unstructured outdoor time, where they create their own activities and freely explore their surroundings. Let them make up games, find special outdoor places and start up projects. I remember some great organized football games from my childhood, but I also remember playing in the woods, damming up creeks and having rock-skipping contests.
Pick up litter. Clean up in your front yard, in a vacant lot or at school. It makes the place look better, it's free, good exercise and shows you care about the environment.
Make a vacation in natural places. Go see the mountains, beaches, plains, deserts, wetlands, badlands and forests. Try fishing, hiking, rafting, rock climbing, zip-lining, glacier walking, snorkeling, meteor crater checking, climbing into the rain forest canopy, or caving. Visit nature centers and museums. Many of these places have fine hotels, restaurants and fabulous activities.
- Talk about life and nature. Does milk just come from the grocery store? Where does trash go? Is your house energy efficient? What are local environmental issues and current events? What produce and livestock are grown nearby? Discuss these topics with your kids to help them appreciate the environment more.
Scouts, camp and field trips. These are organizations that get kids outside. Scouts go hiking, camping, and earn badges that teach outdoor knowledge and skills. Not to mention making friends and building character. Generally, parents can be as involved as they want. There are other organizations to consider, too, such as Audubon, Camp Fire, FFA, 4H, school clubs and more. Choose a good summer camp, at www.acacamps.org. Not only should you consider the quality of supervision and safety, but also the emphasis of outdoor activities.
Visit www.childrenandnature.org. This web site was established with profits from Last Child In The Woods, by Richard Louv, to serve as a resource for parents and community leaders. There are ideas for activities geared for all ages, families, scouts, and school groups.
Nobody intentionally gives their kid "Nature Deficit Disorder." The benefits of spending more time outside are intuitive and scientifically studied too. What a simple way to encourage kids to maintain their weight and to play outdoors more.
More: 20 Ways to Raise a Healthier Child
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