Activities & Games

Family Fun in Nearby Nature

Leave No Trace - May 13, 2020

Like many of you, some of the Leave No Trace staff are juggling watching and educating our kids while working simultaneously. Keeping everyone busy and entertained can be a challenge, but here are a few ideas to keep youth engaged and learning about nature, no matter your access to outdoor spaces. Follow along as your access expands in the future and have some fun with your family in nearby nature.

Home

Even if you are still under stay at home restrictions or do not have access to outdoor spaces, there is still a lot you can do to have some fun at home and bring nature into your space. The first and easiest way is to stream a nature documentary and learn more about why it’s important we protect natural spaces. Some of our favorites include “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” series or the Disney “Bears” movie. 

After feeling inspired by watching some awesome wildlife and beautiful places, it’s time to become a Virtual Junior Ranger. Make your own hat and badge and tackle any of the almost one hundred activities curated by the National Park Service! Then work as a family to plan a future trip to a national park through the Virtual Find Your Park page for tours, guides, webinars, and live events in some of our nation’s most iconic public lands. Lastly, make your own Leave No Trace inspired park brochure to educate and inspire all the other families going to this place.

Backyard

If you have ever wanted to see how green your thumb can be, now is the time to find out. Make a small garden box out of something as simple as an egg carton and plant some seeds as a family. Log the day by day progress of the seedlings and note how fragile they can be. What would happen if we stepped on our little seedlings?  Natural vegetation can be just as sensitive when we are enjoying the outdoors, and this is a great opportunity to teach the importance of protecting the natural flora around us.

Ranger and youth planting in an outdoor space.

City Park

If you are able to expand your circle of outdoor adventure, city parks are a great place to connect with nature. One way to do this? Grab a field guide or download an app and try to identify as many plant and tree species as you can. Identifying plant life at the park is a lot like being a detective. You will need to pay attention all the little clues to try to figure out the species you are looking at. Things like the type and depth of bark, how many leaves and leaflets a tree has, etc. Municipal parks are a fun place to practice identifying plants as they will often have both native and non native species.

Two individuals looking closely at a plant to identify its species.

Open Space

If you are fortunate enough to have access to larger open spaces and other recreational areas near your community, be sure to enjoy these spaces while taking into account the Leave No Trace COVID-19 recommendations and any local guidance. Additionally, you can spend time in these spaces while also giving back. Many regular cleanups and trailwork projects are not being completed currently due to limitations of group sizes and shared cleanup gear. This means it is now more important than even for us to do our part.

Bring a bag, gloves, and a mask to safely pack out any trash you find. Things like aluminum cans (80-100 years), fishing line (600 years), and plastic bottles (Indefinitely) last a significant amount of time in outdoors spaces, and picking these items up goes a long way. The wildlife, plants, and water sources will thank you. Remember to take extra sanitary precautions when picking up and touching discarded items and go over the ground rules with your household before starting the cleanup.

Pile of micro trash and litter on a table.

If you have some family fun in nature and take a picture or video of it share it with us! Tag @LeaveNoTraceCenter on social platforms and use the hashtag #OutdoorsAtHome and show us how you are connecting to nature in whatever form you can.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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