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5 Fun Outdoor Activities to Get Kids Excited for Camp
Most kids fall into two groups before their first summer camp experience—those who are itching with anticipation for their first taste of independence and those who are already homesick before they’ve left. If your kids are nervous about going to summer camp, you can prepare them by introducing outdoor exploration in the safety of your neighborhood.
It’s important that children learn skills that develop their self-confidence. By cultivating your children’s outdoor abilities, you instill the confidence they need to enjoy their time at camp. Here are five ideas for outdoor activities kids love, courtesy of Two of a Kind:
1. A Map-Reading Scavenger Hunt
Map reading is an important skill to have if you’re spending time outdoors, but reading a map can be difficult for the inexperienced. Teach your kids map-reading skills by creating a scavenger hunt. Identify the items that must be found. These can be natural features, man-made structures along a trail, or items hidden at specified GPS coordinates. Complete the hunt with your kids so they don’t get lost or frustrated. For more advice on teaching kids map-reading skills, check out this post from Get Out With the Kids.
2. Backyard Camping
You can cover a lot of skills while camping in the backyard. Grab the tent, sleeping bags, and flashlights, and head to sleep outdoors but stay close to home on a warm, dry night. Practice tying knots, pitch a tent, and cook over a campfire. When the hard work is done, watch the night sky to spot constellations and watch for shooting stars. Oh, and if you need to spruce up your backyard a bit (perhaps by aerating it and/or adding a fence), good news: often, these upgrades can actually increase your home’s appraisal value!
3. Bird Watching
Learning to identify wildlife is a fun skill for anyone, young or old. But if you live in an urban or suburban neighborhood, there may not be much wildlife to speak of. However, even densely-populated areas are home to a diversity of bird species, making bird watching a convenient entry into wildlife identification.
To get your child into birding, Audubon recommends starting “by reminding kids that birds are hard to spot, but easy to hear. Have them close their eyes and listen.” You can even make a game out of it once they have some experience. Encourage them to imitate bird calls they like or quiz them on the bird calls they hear.
4. Wilderness Survival Games
This activity requires some planning, but the benefits are worth it. When kids know how to handle an outdoor emergency, they can protect themselves even when things don’t go as planned. To turn wilderness survival into a kid-friendly activity, head out to some trails and role play scenarios like getting lost, constructing an emergency shelter, and using first aid to treat minor injuries. ActiveKids has excellent suggestions on what topics to cover and how to make it fun for your child.
5. Foraging for Wild Edibles
The natural world is full of delicious treats, from the juicy tuna of the prickly pear cactus to the tart green wood sorrel. However, there are also a lot of things you shouldn’t eat, and it’s important for curious kids to know the difference. Teach them proper safety practices for foraging while encouraging their curiosity about the natural world.
Sharing outdoor activities with your kids is more than a way to prepare them for summer camp. Getting active and learning as a family also strengthens your relationship with your children and builds their self-confidence. Just don’t expect daily letters home from camp! With luck, your kids’ summer camp experience will be such a success that homesickness never crosses their minds.
Two of a Kind are interactive children’s music performers. They delight audiences of all ages with their music, good humor and audience participation. David and Jenny Heitler-Klevans of TWO OF A KIND love bringing people together and building community through music. Call 215-782-8258.