Sunday, April 3, 2011
Exploring the Nature
Ahhh, The Great Outdoors...
Camping is just one of the many things my family has been busy doing the past few weeks. T Man is in Cub Scouts and we have two annual camping trips. This time the camp site was right on the water.
At first, I was worried because neither of my boys are great swimmers. My fears were soon put to rest when I realized that the water had a gradual entry. The boys were able to play in the water's edge with little problem.
Being near the water had the added benefit of allowing JJ to stay outside on a very hot day. As I watched nearby, I would noticed my little guy wetting down his clothes to cool off. He is becoming such a big boy. He didn't even need me to take care of him.
Sunrise Over the Lake
Camping is such a great way to unplug and get in touch with nature. I thought I would share a few tips of the trade to get you started.
First of all you need to select a location. Discover America is a site that helps you locate various activities by location in the United States. Simply select camping and fishing from the drop down menu, how far you are willing to travel, and your state.
You will get to view a list of camping grounds in the area you provided. It is not a comprehensive list, but it will definitely get you started.
Things to consider when selecting a camping site:
1. Does the site have electrical hook ups? Hard core campers will think this unnecessary, but for many families this is a priority. With RV camping and various camping gear that can be purchased nowadays, electricity can make camping for the non-enthusiast much more comfortable.
2. Are there public restrooms? Any family with kids would want to make sure that bathrooms are available. Most kids just will not do their business in the woods or an open field.
3. Are there enough trees to provide adequate shade during the hottest part of the day?
4. Can you swim on site?
5. Is fishing available?
6. Is geocaching available on site?
The above are only some of the questions to consider. Sit down with the adults who will be on the camping trip and discuss options and concerns to ensure you get the most out of your nature experience.
Now that you have selected a site, you can begin to plan some activities for your down time. This doesn't mean that you are providing your children with a step by step itinerary. It simple means that you provide a pressure valve several times a day to reground your child and help to keep him or her from becoming overstimulated by all there is to see and do when you are spending the bulk of your time outdoors.
Activities to Consider:
1. structured free play: Simply steer your child to a location that can provide a space to play with relaxation built in. Remember the lake front that has a gradual entry? It proved to be a hot spot for my kiddos. Making motes, digging, and exploring the shallow waters was very calming amongst a day that was filled with high energy.
Here is a bit of the natural learning that took place:
Little J learned that digging in the slug next to the water causes the water to seep up from the ground. This lead to discussion on sea level. He also learned how to make a mote that would fill with water as the waves rolled onto the bank. It took a while to make walls that didn't collapse, but he was eventually successful.
T Man explored the marine life in the shallow waters and practice balancing on the moss covered river rocks. He explored every nook and cranny he could physically reach. He even managed to squeeze in some swim practice as well.
2. bring arts and crafts into nature: Something as simple as building a small boat and sailing it in the waters can provide that much needed pressure valve, as well as, hours of entertainment.
This was the activity of the day on our scout trip. It took about 10 minutes to assemble the sail boats, but the fun lasted for most of an afternoon.
Another idea is to create a simple nature journal that you take with you on outdoor outings. Click here to find out how we made our own.
Have a budding naturalist or scientist? Check out these awesome nature bags. They have a bit of everything to make exploring outdoors fun for all involved.
3. cook with the kiddos: Allow your child to make his or her own meal... sandwiches and chips, smores around the evening campfire. Cooking is an engaging activity most kids love.
4. pack up your bikes and go for a ride: Put a couple bandages and wipes in your pockets. Camping bike rides tend to have a few more cuts and scrapes due to the uneven terrain.
5. hike through the woods: Don't forget that trusty nature journal or nature bag. This is the best time to put those to use.
6. locate geocaches... hidden boxes with small treasures: You will need a GPS and to have chosen a campsite that has several boxes on site. Our Boy Scout den actually hid several boxes as part of our fall camp out last year. If you are lucky enough to locate a camp like the one we used, you will have tons of boxes to hunt down.
Don't know about geocaching? You are definitely missing out. Check out this site to find out more.
Hopefully, this will give you some ideas for your next camp out. Spending time in the outdoors and amongst nature is a wonderful time to connect with Mother Nature and to go unplugged.