There is no question that technology has brought us indoors more than ever before. My husband always tells my kids the age old “when I was a kid….” – which actually holds true. When we were kids, though not all that long ago, there was really nothing but a TV keeping us from heading out and exploring the outdoors. My husband and I are a lot alike. We were not interested in TV all that much as kiddos.
We played in the mud, we went barefoot, we rode our bikes until the porch lights came on and we knew it was time to be home. Being particularly close to my grandparents, I spent a lot of time at their house throughout the year – and there was an abundance of land and woods to explore. When it was time to come inside, my grandpa would blow a bull horn – we knew we had better hurry up! I remember sitting outside by a big tree stump with my great grandma shucking peas from her garden.
Today, so many families have opted for the convenience of metropolitan areas vs rural areas. With kids playing sports, easier commutes to work and the store, it is just easier to live in town. OH how I miss being out in the country, though. Even with the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, my husband and I have made it a point to get our kids outdoors as much as possible. Now that they are teenagers – they share our love for the outdoors. They take it upon themselves to be outside as much as they can.
Being in Arkansas – there is NO shortage of places to enjoy the outdoors. We are the natural state, after all. But for those of you who are not in areas where forest and parks are so common – outdoor exploration is much closer than you might think. Every neighborhood has a #Naturehood. DiscoverTheForest.org highlights urban forests and parks. These “naturehoods” are just a short-drive away, making it easy for families to unplug from the daily routine and reconnect with nature.
Beyond the swings, slides and clearings, there are trails, trees, wildlife and water just waiting for the urban dweller. The Ad Council and the US Forest Service will be launching a campaign to motivate families to get out and explore the outdoors. Saturday, June 11th, is National Get Outdoors Day and we want to encourage everyone to make the time – get up and get outside!
Research has shown that children who play outside have lower stress levels and more active imaginations, become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems and are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future. According to campaign research done by Euro RSCG, 88 percent of children today say they like being in nature, and 79 percent wish they could spend more time there. I truly believe this is also the case for adults. I promise you, there has never been a time that I have spent hours outdoors and not felt like a whole new person afterward.
National Get Outdoors Day will include a series of events offering traditional and nontraditional outdoor activities across the nation. Events may include special guests like Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl and free admissions to our national forests so families can experience activities like fishing, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and archery. Just use this simple interactive map tool to search for nearby activities. Or Visit the “Get Your Pass” section of www.everykidinapark.gov, complete an online activity, and download a personalized pass for free entry onto federal lands and waters locations.
Engage your senses, spend some quality family time and expand your imagination with some fun outdoor activities. Share your family fun on Instagram using the hashtag #ForestFotog. And to make things a little more exciting, starting Saturday, June 11th, and running for several weeks, Discover the Forest will post a creative photo of the forest and ask followers to replicate the photo with their family and participate using #Getoutdoors16. Who doesn’t love a great scavenger hunt?