Taking Nature Walk

What better way to reconnect with your family than to go out and reconnect with the great outdoors?  Taking a nature walk with your spouse and/or kids is also a wonderful way to explore the local parks and recreational areas in your neighborhood without paying any money for weekend or weeknight entertainment.  Here are some tips if nature walking sounds like a good family activity for your next Saturday afternoon (or other time period!).

A nice pathway near the lake.

Pack up a knapsack or backpack with snacks and water, as well as any other vitals that are weather appropriate: sunscreen and sunglasses, ponchos, bug spray, and a first aid kit.  Even if you're just perusing your neighborhood, you'll want to bring along at least some water, because heading back to the house after you've made it several blocks is just a good excuse not to venture back outside.  If you're going pretty far, make the snacks you bring healthy and full of energy, so your kids will be satisfied for longer.

No matter where you go, don't stay too long.  Kids focus in on whatever activity they're doing so long as their attention is held by it, but once the excitement dies down, they can be cranky and unhappy very quickly.  Make your nature walks short but sweet, so that you won't look back on them as times of great stress and discord, but rather as fun activities you shared as an entire family.

Bring field guides to identify wildlife and other natural objects you find along the way.  Guides to trees, plants, rocks and minerals, birds, and small mammals can all come in handy as you trek out into the wilderness.  Kids will especially enjoy this portion of the nature walk if you make it into a game of explorers and treasure seekers, and you can sneak in some science along the way!

Frequently stop for rests and games, especially if you have younger children along.  Bring a small, portable ball or other sports toy, and find an open area to play in -- or, get creative and make up rules that involve the natural terrain, such as specifying certain trees as goalposts or bases.  Let your youngsters romp around and get out their energy; after all, nature walks are great ways to keep your kids from going stir-crazy.

Try going during different weathers, though always be prepared for whatever is raging or shining outside.  Taking a nature walk in a gentle rain is an entirely different experience than going during the height of summer, and both can be just as rewarding as the other.  Experiment with different temperatures to see what your family best handles.

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