Hey kids! How much time do you spend outside each week? According to a recent study, the average child spends 54 hours in front of screen per week – that’s more than two full days! Our life is so tuned into technology, but the Delaware Nature Society wants to challenge you to “Get Unplugged!” by getting outside and having fun in nature. We made it really easy for you by creating a family program for each of the 10 activities listed on the Delaware Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. What’s that you ask? Keep reading to find out, and don’t forget to check out the awesome family programs at the bottom of this blog!
Delaware Governor Markell wants to see kids outside too! Governor Markell and other adults like him care so much about kids having a positive outdoor experience that they have launched an initiative called Children in Nature. This program is made up of a number of task force groups and committees who promote kids’ development, healthy lifestyles, and academic achievement through spending time outside. They created the Delaware Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights to help achieve these goals. This Outdoor Bill of Rights is a list of activities created to get kids outside and have fun in nature, and it’s a pretty awesome list if I say so myself.
Anna, Christy, and I took a look at the list of activities in the Outdoor Bill of Rights and decided to see if we have accomplished everything on it between the three of us. (Just because it’s technically for kids, doesn’t mean we can’t try to complete this list as well!) In this post and another to come, we will share some gems from our past and recent outdoorsy adventures with you. Check it out!
Go Outside and Play! Grab a friend and go for a walk through a field or a forest and see what you can find. Tracks? Holes? Nests? Scat? Wildlife? The possibilities are endless. Since I started working for the Delaware Nature Society and living at Ashland Nature Center (just one of the perks being an intern!), I’ve hiked each of the trails here many times. I love that no matter how many times you can hike a trail, you never see the exact same things twice!
Another fun thing to do outside is spend some time watching the clouds float by. Find an open spot in your backyard and lay on your back in the grass. Count the clouds or see if the clouds are making any cool shapes! Anna loves searching for fun shapes in the clouds.
Catch a Fish. Grab a net or a fishing pole and see how many fish you can catch. I’ve caught fish before just using a stick and some fishing line! Each summer, the Delaware Nature Society offers a number of different fishing camps. Each year, the interns on that trip must participate in a special tradition – they must kiss the fish they catch! Both Christy and Anna have upheld this tradition, check out these silly pictures!
Camp Under the Stars. If you’re feeling adventurous, grab a tent and spend the night outside. Never been camping before? Start simple by setting your tent up in your backyard! Spend some time looking at the beautiful night sky, see if you can find any constellations or count the stars that are out that night. Catch fireflies and make some s’mores. Lay in your sleeping bag and listen to the sounds of the night and see if they sound different from what you may hear during the day. Did you know that you can determine the approximate air temperature outside by the number of times the katydid says its name? Count how many times the katydid says its name in 15 seconds and then add 40 to that number – you should get the approximate air temperature.
After you’ve become a seasoned camper and feeling super adventurous, you can strap everything you need to survive to your back and go backpacking! I was backpacking for a weekend on the Appalachian Trail in northern New Jersey when this picture was taken. It was too goofy not to share with you.
Climb a Tree. This is one of my favorite activities! I love scrambling up the twisty branches and checking out the view. It’s amazing how much more of the forest you can see just a few feet above the ground. Sometimes on a hike, it’s more fun to just “hang around” in the trees…
Trees are not only great for climbing, but also for jumping in their fallen leaves! A favorite fall time tradition of Anna’s is to gather a big pile of leaves and jump on in. Let’s be real, you can’t simply walk by a big pile of leaves without jumping in, it’s hard to resist!
Play in the Waves. I love going to the beach, it’s one of my favorite places. Whenever I would go down the shore as a kid I would spend almost the entire time in the ocean. What am I talking about? I STILL do that now! Anna loves the ocean too. This past summer she played in the Pacific waves another way, she went surfing! She loved the experience, even though she did end up swimming with some Leopard sharks…
Try a New Nature Activity! It’s always fun to try something new! Ever been kayaking? Grab a friend and get on the water!
Or grab a dive buddy and get in the water and go scuba diving!
Or if you’re not interested in being anywhere near water, try going on a bird walk! Grab some binoculars and a field guide and count how many different kinds of birds you see. Anna enjoys birding because she says there is no other activity where you see such pretty colors in nature.
The Delaware Nature Society has written a program for each number on the Delaware Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. If you complete 7 out of the 10 you’ll get a Nature Family Outdoor Fun Kit. Check out the descriptions of the programs below, they sound awesome!
Saturday, March 23rd 1-4pm – Go Outside and Play! Take a fun nature walk through fields and forests and play nature games as you look for wildlife. Program meets at Ashland Nature Center.
Sunday, March 24th 2-4pm – Discover Wildlife in Your Neighborhood. Invite House Wrens and Chickadees to your yard to nest by building a bird box with your family. Help reduce insect populations as you enjoy watching parents busily feed hungry babies. Craft your own bird house using simple tools. (Cost includes materials for one box per family). Program meets at Ashland Nature Center.
Saturday, April 6th 1-4pm – Explore Delaware’s Culture. Take a hike around the historic Cooch-Dayett Mill where the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge was fought in the Revolutionary War. See what lives in the Christina River that flows here. Tour the inside of the old grist mill and see how they used the river to grind flour and other products. Program meets at Cooch-Dayett Mills.
Saturday, April 13th 1-4pm – Play in the Mud. Look for animal tracks and learn how to find signs of animals. Make some tracks of your own in the mud and make a track snack and take-home craft. Program meets at Ashland Nature Center.
Saturday, April 27th 4:30pm – Sunday, April 28th 10:30am – Camp Under the Stars. Camp out at the Bucktoe Creek Preserve near Kennett Square, PA. Bring your own tent, use one of ours, or sleep in an Adirondack Shelter (first come-first served). Bring your own dinner, take a night hike, morning walk, and enjoy a campfire. Program meets at Bucktoe Creek Preserve.
Sunday, April 21st 1-3pm – Plant a Seed. Help us plant seeds around the farm, from sunflowers to spinach. Sow the seeds of multiple gardens on the farm, and end with a potting a plant in a pot that you decorate yourself that you can take home. Program meets at Coverdale Farm Preserve – entrance on Way Road.
Saturday, May 4th 1-4pm – Climb a Tree. Take a walk at Ashland Nature Center to learn about some of the different trees here and collect leaves to “press” so you can keep them in your own tree book (one per child). Climb up onto the “Climbing Sycamore tree of Ashland”. Program meets at Ashland Nature Center. (Hey, I climbed this tree last weekend!)
Saturday, May 18th 1-4pm – Catch a Fish. Use our fishing poles at the Coverdale Farm Preserve to go fishing in the farm pond. Try to catch bluegills and bass with an expert. Program meets at Coverdale Farm Preserve – entrance on Way Road.
Saturday, June 1st 9am-3pm – Play in the Waves. Family Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Trip. Take a trip to the Delaware Bay to discover horseshoe crabs and the shorebirds that depend on their eggs for food. Hold horseshoe crabs, learn about how they live and their body parts, look at migrant shorebirds through a scope and binoculars. Afterwards, have some beach time to play in the sand and the waves! Meet at Ashland Nature Center – van transportation provided.
Saturday, June 15th 10am-3pm – Try a New Nature Activity. Family Nature Fun Day! Come to Ashland for a day of trying new things in nature. Choose between going on a bird walk, catching insects to identify them, pond dip-netting, and nature photography. We supply all of the equipment. Bring a lunch and have a family picnic at Ashland at noon. Here a story from a professional story-teller at 12:30pm. Program meets at Ashland Nature Center.
Don’t be left inside! Register for the “Get Unplugged!” series at http://www.delawarenaturesociety.org/seasonal_progs.html or call us at (302) 239-2334.
Look for part two of the “Get Unplugged” post coming up later this spring, where I will feature the rest of the activities on the Outdoor Bill of Rights!