Get Outdoors and Get in That Sunshine!

Guest Post by Kait Curran Palmer

Summer is upon most of the Northern Hemisphere at this point–minus the cloud-covered and still-chilly Pacific Northwest–but for the rest of you lovely people you are kicking off your flip flops and getting to have a grand ole time basking in the warmth of long and sun-filled days.

No bitterness here as I sit wearing flannels and a fleece.

None at all…

Seattle drudgery aside, as the kids are out of school and it is the season for “fun in the sun,” I thought I would share some of my favorite outdoor activities with you.

I have to admit I’m a huge Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) fan, and not just because my husband works there. When the CEO Sally Jewel was asked who REI’s competitors are, she replied, “First I define competitors as things that keep people indoors, or keep people from enjoying lifelong outdoor activities. So, competitors include the couch, computers, television, certainly video games […] How many of us grew up camping, participating in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, playing in the woods, building a tree fort, or digging a swimming pool in the backyard?”

I think she makes a great point, and issues a challenge for us to get off our hineys and take a hike.

Now, I understand not everyone may be a Backpacker Jane willing to forgo toilet paper in favor of leaves whilst chewing a twig of a walnut tree, but I do think everyone has it in them to enjoy God’s beautiful creation. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the Great Outdoors during the summer months.

One if by Land

Eat dinner on the patio.  Experiment with making a kite from paper and sticks then go try to fly it.  Pack up a picnic and find a local trail or park to hike around in.  If you’re the kind who’s always looking for an opportunity to learn (or teach), check out a local plant/bird/bug guide book from the library and have a competition to see who can spot the most species.

Get out your bike and take a spin with your kids. Build a cardboard fort in your backyard and have a camp out–with or without the kids!  Go berry picking and eat the sun-warmed fruit right off the bush (if its pesticide free, of course).  The point is to get OUT.

I know for me that when I’m sitting at my desk at work, I’m ready and willing to lace up my boots and hit a trail after work.  Come 5:30, though, propping my feet up and watching a movie sounds so much more appealing than lacing up my trail runners.  I’ve gotten to where I will call my husband and tell him I want to go on a hike after work, so please make me go even when I gripe and say I don’t want to.  He usually has to put up with my begrudging and complaining, but by the time I’m in the middle of the dappled green woods listening to a small creek run downhill, I wonder how a movie ever sounded good compared to this.

If you’re bored to death with your neighborhood park and wondering where else to go, here are a few online resources to search for things to do:

http://www.rei.com/family-adventure

or for an interactive map of family-friendly activities

…by Sea (or lake, or river, or pond…)

Most places are at least semi-near a body of water. Whether it’s an ocean to surf in, a bay to kayak, a lake to canoe or a creek to fish, water and summer just go hand in hand. If you live near the ocean, explore tide pools at low tide. Take a fishing pole and drop a line in a river, listening to the quiet music of nature.

Renting a paddle boat is usually pretty inexpensive and a great way to explore the shores of a lake while still keeping your kids safe and dry.  If you want a team-building exercise (or marital-fight-inducer, either way you look at it), try a tandem kayak. Guaranteed to test your mettle and force you to work together…but at least you’re outside, right?

While there aren’t as many online resources for water activities, Google is always a good way to find what’s near you.

http://waterplayusa.com/

Volunteer

No matter where you may live there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in a field that interests you. Grab a trash bag and join a trail cleanup, offer to walk dogs at a local shelter, help plant native species in an estuary…point is there are lots of options. We are charged to be good stewards of the environment and caretakers of God’s magnificent creation. Spending a few hours picking up trash in a river valley is a way to show your kids a concrete example of that stewardship.

http://www.handsonnetwork.org/
http://www.volunteermatch.org/
http://www.serve.gov/

I found it hard to find one overarching website for Canada, but it seems there are a lot of province-based websites dedicated to volunteerism. Try a search in your specific area to learn how you can volunteer.

Now that you are armed with the resources to find things to do in the long school-less days ahead, get out there and have some fun!

What are your favorite things to do outdoors? How do you motivate yourself when you know you need to get outside and do something?

Kait Curran Palmer has far too much outdoor equipment in her closet but tries to make good use of it by getting out-of-doors with her Mountain Man husband and precocious dog. When she is not romping around outside she is usually reading or writing about finding the adventures in an everyday life at Your Morning Cup.

The quote from Sally Jewell was taken from http://ethix.org/2009/01/01/when-customers-and-shareholders-align/

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Comments

  1. Our family LOVES the outdoors; we try to spend about 3+ hours outside every day unless rainy or snowstorm. Even though it is SO hot here and humid(heat index of 100-115 in the summer) , we try to go out early early morning so we can get in our outdoor time anyway.
    Unfortunately, all our lakes here get ‘diseased’ with toxic algea come mid-June (stagnancy + humidity = no good) so you can’t swim or boat on them after that. And we are a good 15 hours away from an ocean in any direction! We get all our water play out of the way in early May – middle of June and our vacations ALWAYS include someplace with either ocean or tons of rivers/lakes. Always!
    Great post! Loved to have all those links!
    Sarah M

  2. I’d really like to feel sorry for you in your flannels and fleece – but at the moment it’s almost 100* here in the deep south and I’m wishing I had a little of your chilly weather :) The grass is always greener – isn’t it!! Thanks for the tips — I might have to put a few of them on hold until it’s a “chilly 90* day” but we’re looking forward to some of the activities your mentioned.

  3. Larry Wall says:

    GREAT ARTICLE KAIT. That first photo makes me want to bring the new little kiddies and come join you. I do wish we had places like that down here in So. Cal.

  4. Spending time with my husband and children is my biggest motivator. That and the beauty of the outdoors.

    We hike most every weekend and also backpack as a family and write about our adventures here:
    http://www.adventureinprogress.com/

    I wrote a post about being a homemaker and getting outdoors every week here:
    http://www.adventureinprogress.com/one-day-a-week-homemaker-view

    To be honest, I find not many other homemakers do this often and it feels a bit lonely at times, as most other homemakers write about the jam they are making etc. and I am getting my backpack ready for our next adventure (or at least it feels this way).

    • @renee @ FIMBY, I just read your post and LOVED it! That is such a great idea! I liked hearing your perspective on it – how its the time your husband gets to spend with your kids.

      I second your “feeling a bit lonely,” as well. We don’t have kids and both still work full time, and its hard to try to be the kind of homemaker I’d love to be and still work, walk the dog, make dinner, do the laundry, etc. Its a great reminder that the house can wait a day while you get outside. Thank you.

    • @renee @ FIMBY, Renee I wish that I could be getting my backpack ready for my next adventure. Although I also do like ot make jam. I’d like to do both. :) My health isn’t allowing what I’d like to do- take my kids out once a week or so- but I was able to go with my family and my mom canoeing for a few hours once this summer and that was awesome, although very exhausting for me when it was over. If my health was better (hopeful it will improve) then I’m sure I’d also feel lonely the same way you do. I used to love doing all that before kids and health stuff. I think what your family is doing is amazing. Keep it up!!!

  5. Okay…………I’ll “get off my hiney”. I now have some ambition to finally go kayaking. Great article! xx oo

  6. I love the outdoors. I think that all of us need it far more than we think. I know I do.

    I was recently surprised to learn just how cheap renting a canoe from a local outfitter (complete rental with lifejackets and everything) is where I live. Its quite an affordable family excursion!

    We love going hiking too, and are blessed by the many many places to go where I live.

    • @Nola, I agree – we definitely need a dose of nature more than we probably get it! Glad you found an affordable place to go as a family! Some of the biggest up front cost of getting outdoors is getting the gear – shoes, backpack, waterbottles, etc. – but after that its usually just the cost of gas! Water sports are different, but if you’re in a non-touristy area its usually pretty affordable!

  7. I just love that first photo. It completely embodies a peaceful moment. :)