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Summer vacation is just around the corner, and for families with school-aged children, this means more free time and the challenge of keeping kids engaged. Instead of overscheduling their days with structured activities, consider allowing time for unstructured outdoor play. It’s crucial for their development and can be a lot of fun! Here are ten exciting ways to get your kids outside this summer.

1. Gear up for Adventure

Having the right gear can make outdoor play more enjoyable. Keep an outdoor play bag in your car filled with essentials like a change of clothes, wipes, snacks, extra sunscreen, towels, and maybe a shovel or two. This way, you’re always ready for spontaneous adventures.

2. Be Weather-Wise

Plan outdoor activities according to the weather. In hot climates, opt for activities like swimming in the pool during the day and hiking in the cooler early morning hours. Always carry plenty of water to stay hydrated.

3. Let the Child Lead

Unstructured play is about the journey, not the destination. Let your child set the pace and explore their surroundings. Slowing down to notice the little things can be beneficial for both you and your child.

4. Go for a Hike

Hiking is excellent physical exercise and a fantastic way to enjoy nature. If you’re looking to explore more, consider investing in a National Parks Pass for access to numerous hiking trails.

Get outside this summer.

5. Take some Wheels for a Spin

Put on a helmet, grab your bike, scooter, skateboard, or rollerblades, and hit the road. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.

6. Go Geocaching

Geocaching is like a modern-day treasure hunt using GPS coordinates to find hidden items. It’s an exciting and engaging activity for all ages.

7. Grow a Garden

Planting and tending to a garden is a wonderful way to connect with nature. Watching your plants grow and eventually harvesting them is a rewarding experience.

8. Enjoy Summer-Night Stargazing

Find a spot with minimal light pollution and spend the night stargazing. See how many constellations you can identify and enjoy the beauty of the night sky.

9. Splash in Natural Waters

Playing in a natural body of water, like a lake, ocean, or creek, can be magical. Swim, look for wildlife, kayak, paddleboard, or build sandcastles for endless fun.

Whether you’re exploring a national park or gardening in your backyard, spending time outdoors this summer is sure to benefit the whole family. So, put down those devices and step outside for some unforgettable adventures! Want more tips on facilitating healthy growth and development for your children? Check out HRC’s free parenting and relationship workshops.

For more information on the benefits of outdoor play, read our full-length article here.