For those not keen on winter sports, like skiing or snowmobiling, the winter months seem to drag on forever. However, now that Old Man Winter has gone on his yearly sabbatical, it is time to get the family outside for some summer fun! Studies have shown that families who spend time together outside are happier, and children who spend more time playing outdoors have fewer emotional issues than those who don’t.
While some families are lucky enough to live by the ocean, have a camp at a lake or maybe have a pool in their backyard, many families struggle to come up with things to do outside as a family. However, there are plenty of fun summertime activities close to home the whole family can enjoy together. To get you started, here are ten top-rated summer family outdoor activities:
1) Sidewalk Art
Get a bucket of Eco-friendly sidewalk chalk and find a quiet street, walkway, or in your own driveway. Collaborate on a family portrait, see who can draw the funniest picture, or play “Pictionary.” You can also use the chalk to play tic tac toe or draw a hopscotch pattern. Draw a bullseye and have a bean bag toss contest. Use some masking tape to create the borders and draw “stained-glass” art. The ideas are limited only by your imagination.
2) Castles and Sculptures in the Sand
Making sand sculptures at the beach is an excellent way for the family to spend a fun afternoon together and test your collective creativity. You can sculpt sand castles or figures with just your hands and wet sand, use a simple play pail and shovel, or you can find special sand-castle kits for just a few dollars in stores and online. Not living near a beach is no excuse, as most home-supply stores sell inexpensive bags of play sand.
3) Backyard Camp and Cookout
You don’t even have to leave home to experience one of the most enjoyable outdoor family activities by having a full-scale family camp and cookout right in your own backyard. This can be a fun time even for those family members who hate camping, as you can just make a late night of it and then go sleep in your own comfy bed. If you don’t have actual camping equipment, you can make a makeshift tent out of blankets and bed sheets. Just be sure to check the weather report and be certain you use a good mosquito repellent, so the little bloodsuckers don’t ruin the fun.
4) Go Fly a Kite
Pick up a few kits, find a park or an empty ball field and take to the skies. Holding on to the string while your kite glides effortlessly through the air is relaxing, satisfying, and exhilarating, and seeing the delight on everyone’s face is a joy in itself. There are so many different types, sizes, and varieties of kites, including the traditional diamond shape, the tried-and-true box kite, and the easy-to-fly “stingray” model, that everyone can have their own style. Pro tip: add a tail to the end of the kite to make it more stable in flight.
5) Visit an Animal Rescue
Going to an animal rescue facility is a great way to spend the day together while providing an educational opportunity for the entire family. There are many different rescue facilities, from the typical stray dog and cat shelters to feral cats and abused and abandoned horses. You can even ask if you can donate a few hours of your time to help out.
6) Organize a Charitable Event
There is no limit to worthy causes that need operational funding and almost as many ways of raising money. The family can work together to organize a 5k walk, a car wash, a bake sale, or even a full-scale fundraising caravel with food, games, and raffles. Ask local churches, gas stations, and clubs to let you use their parking lots. However, before you begin, you will need to find a worthy cause to donate the money to, perhaps an animal rescue shelter.
7) The Quick and the Wet
The heat of summer is the best time to have a water-gun fight. Set up an obstacle course with some barricades, get some super-soaker water guns, and have a paintball-like competition to see who can stay the driest for the longest. If you don’t want to lay out the cash for the coolest new water cannons, water balloons are cheap and almost as much fun.
8) A Full Day Afield
Organize a family day outside by combining several activities in a day. As an example, the day can begin with a fruit-picking foray followed by a canoe rental and end with a trip to an amusement park or take in a ball game under the lights.
9) Stargazing and UFO Spotting
When the night sky is clear, grab the family, some blankets, binoculars or a telescope, a thermos of something hot to drink, and mosquito repellent and go find a location away from the bright city lights. Try to find the biggest stars, like Polaris, locate the other planets in the solar system, such as Venus, and name the consolations, like the big and little dippers. You can look for meteor showers and comets at the right time of the year. You might even spot an honest-to-goodness UFO!
Cue the theme song from the “Andy Griffith Show.” Taking the family fishing is a fantastic way to spend a sunny day outdoors together and is just as rewarding for young and old alike. Fishing provides valuable lessons on the importance of preparation and the rewards of patience. As a bonus, you can use your catch to all have supper together for those who like eating fish. However, fishing isn’t much fun if the fish aren’t biting, and there are a few things you can do to help tip the odds in your favor. First, check the “solunar” tables online as this provides the periods for each day when fish are most apt to be feeding. Second, check with your state’s fisheries department to see which waters near you have been recently stocked and with what types of fish. Be sure to wear a good waterproof mosquito repellent lotion, as bugs tend to be thick around the water.
There are no limits as to what your family can do together in the great outdoors. Hopefully, these ten ideas will inspire you to get outside and start building the types of memories that you and your children will cherish for a lifetime. However, remember that biting insects like ticks and mosquitoes are omnipresent outdoors and carry many diseases like Zika virus and Lyme disease. To protect yourself and your loved ones, always wear an effective mosquito repellent. Proven® makes a full line of picaridin based insect repellent, including a handy travel size bug spray, that is effective for the entire family. One frequently-asked question is, what is picaridin? Picaridin is a synthetic compound derived from the black pepper plant in the 1980s and is an effective alternative to DEET, and it will not damage clothing or gear. Proven® products are sold in stores, on Amazon, and online at ProvenRepllent.com.