Who knew 2020 would be the year “virtual” would become a trigger word? For about 15 minutes, it was kind of fun to recreate things on screens. But it turns out that doing things together is what makes real, lasting memories. And many of us are now looking for ways to make those family memories about something more than being inside.
Looking for inspiration? Here are six ways families can be outside together, maintain social distance and still get the thrill of happenstance.
Geocaching is Modern Day Treasure Hunting
In the simplest terms, geocaching (pronounced GEE-o-cash-ing) is a really engaging high-tech outdoor treasure hunt. You use a smartphone app to find hidden “caches” in your neighborhood out on the trails, and sometimes on the side of a city street. Navigate to a specific set of coordinates and then attempt to find a geocache hidden at that location. Part of the fun is coming up with fun things to leave for other geocachers to find. People all over the world participate and it’s strangely addictive. You can learn more on the Geocaching website or check out this handy guide from REI.
Bikes Are Not the Only Way to Wheel (Driveway Roller Rink, Anyone?!)
If your family already owns bikes, congratulations – you are officially winners. Because if you don’t have ‘em, good luck getting ‘em now. But bikes aren’t the only fun on wheels. This is the time to return to something you did as a kid – rollerblading, anyone? – or to learn something new together, like skateboarding. And you can always turn the driveway into a good old fashioned roller rink. Even scooters are great for laughs together. One small warning here: DO NOT allow video cameras of any kind when you’re wearing a helmet and attempting to do something on wheels. This is how moms become memes. Protect yourself!
Turn Off the Lights and Step Outside for a Starry Sky Adventure
The beauty of a night hike (or stroll) is that even the most familiar terrain feels completely different after the sun goes down. The sights and sounds are different. You may see fireflies. Or hear owls, chirping crickets and crunching twigs. And there’s a little thrill to being out and about, even in your own neighborhood, once the light gets low. You’ll want to walk slowly and if you can, convince the kids to turn off their flashlights (as long as it’s safe to do so) because the dark elevates the sense that you’re doing something that’s definitely not routine. When you’re trying to wrangle that feeling of happenstance, a night walk just may be your ticket to adventure.
Let Imaginations Run Amok With a DIY Backyard Water Park
Depending on where you are in the country, local water parks may be open now. But if you’re not sure about the safety protocols and social distancing, just do it yourself. With a kiddie pool and sprinklers, you can still have fun splashing around. Throw wet sponges or water balloons at each other and you’ve got games. Put down a huge piece of plastic and some soap and you’ve got a slip and slide. Set up a cooler with popsicles and you’ve got a snack bar. Done. But if you want to really get more serious and you’re one of those families unintimidated by building things with PVC pipe, search for “DIY waterpark.” The sky’s the limit with this one.
Two Words: Double Dutch
Jumping rope is one of those deceptively challenging activities. It looks easy enough but when you start swinging ropes and hopping around? Yikes. It’s also incredibly fun. And when you teach your kids some of the classic jump rope rhymes (well, hello, Miss Mary Mack!) you take silly outdoor fun to a whole other level. If you want to get a little more serious, learn how to Double Dutch.
Instead of Swimming Think About Floating
Most of us live within reasonable distance of a body of water. So whether it’s tubing, canoeing, kayaking or SUP boarding, there are options everywhere. If it’s something you’ve never tried before, even better. You can all learn together. One of the things that makes lasting memories for kids is being in situations where they get to see their parents as learners. Have a sense of humor. Try something new. You’re super, mom.
We can all agree that this summer looks like no summer before. Admittedly, it’s not as easy this year to wander around and see where we end up. Right now, we have to do our best to find new ways to do, well, everything. And even though it feels like life is on pause right now, we will not get these months back so don’t let them slip away. Make new memories outdoors. Just being together is the real ticket to adventure.
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