Just in case you need some reasons to get outside this weekend (cough, last weekend of summer vacation, cough) check out some interesting findings from the More than S’mores research (conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute) to get you motivated:
- Outdoor spaces support physical play. Unlike most indoor environments, the outdoors offers open space where children are able to be messy, make noise, and move in more physically intense ways. This allows them to develop their movement capability and confidence—both of which create foundations for physically active lifestyles and general health (Little & Wyver, 2008; SPARC, 2009).
- Time in nature promotes attention restoration. Spending time in nature (even just a walk in a park) has been shown to improve concentration and creative reasoning among children and adults, including those with attention deficits (Atchley, Strayer, & Atchley, 2012; Taylor & Kuo, 2009; Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008).
- Nature provides novelty and challenge, which enhance leadership. Outdoor experiences often place girls in new physical, psychological, and social situations that motivate curiosity and foster a sense of discovery. Authentic challenges in nature (think . . . starting a fire in the rain or negotiating a set of whitewater rapids) require girls to become more self-aware and to cooperate, communicate, and solve problems more effectively (Rickinson et al., 2004).
This shows us that even if you are totally intimidated by the idea of sleeping outside or rafting in the rapids, just getting outside is the first step to creating and maintaining healthy habits.
Need some ideas? Here are a few to get you started
1. Park it
We know, we know. But weren’t you begging for this heat in January? Check out nps.gov to find the nearest National Park to you! Plan a day hike (a loop, maybe?) or pull out the tent for a last-minute overnight. Make sure to reserve a campsite!
You might also check to see if any events (workshops, seminars, guided hikes, etc.) are happening in your area!
Not a hiker or outside sleeper? Pack a picnic, a blanket, a good book or a Frisbee (or a bike, maybe?) and head out for some low-key (and low-cost) relaxation.
Create a free account on geocaching.com and get in on the world’s largest treasure hunt! Very little-if any-equipment is needed. You can use a handheld GPS or look up and map coordinates ahead of time.
3. Head to a Farmer’s Market
Whether you are a dabbler or a regular, farmer’s markets are a fantastic sensory and cultural experience.
You might head straight for the summer fruits, or maybe you browse local artisan goods. There’s probably also someone selling delicious baked goods or ice cream! Take your time and enjoy!
Other ideas: see who can get the most for $5 or less, or even use this as a learning opportunity. Start a conversation with a farmer or merchant by asking how long they’ve been doing what they do, what’s the hardest part or the biggest reward.
And you thought it was just people selling vegetables.
4. Water Games
Didn’t get enough outdoors at the National Park? Can you Google water games and pick up some cheap foam noodles or water guns? Maybe the inaugural Family Water Olympics is in order? Just sayin.
Start small! These positive outcomes do not hinge on you leading a hike on the Appalachian Trail. But remember: she is following your lead. Stay in your comfort zone and she will, too.