Outdoor Activities for Families

With summer winding down and school starting soon, be sure to take advantage of the warm weather and extra family time by teaching your kids a love for exercise and enjoying the outdoors. They learn best by example, so offer to join them in activities that are fun for the whole family. Here are some ideas to get your family outside:

  • Take a hike. Find a state park nearby and scope out the best trails for your family's age range. Make it fun for the kids by making a game out of it. Bring a list of animals and items to find along the trail, checking off each one as you go. Pack a Frisbee® and a healthy lunch for an outdoor picnic, and make it an all-day event.
  • Water balloon volleyball. Set up a volleyball or badminton net and fill a bucket with small, thin water balloons. Divide the family into two teams and have each team stand on either side of the net. Give both teams a beach towel and have them hold it open. One team places a water balloon in their towel and launches it over the net. The other team must try to catch the water balloon with their towel and toss it back over the net. If one team misses, drops, or breaks the balloon, the other team gets a point.
  • Play with the dog. A pet is an important part of any family and a great reason to keep everyone active. Make a family habit of visiting the dog park, taking a walk around the block or tossing a tennis ball in the yard. Both parties will get the exercise and fresh air they need. If your family doesn't have a pet, offer to take a busy or elderly neighbor's dog for a couple of hours.
  • Create your own Summer Olympics. Invite the neighborhood kids to participate in kid-friendly versions of all your favorite Olympic games. Have each child bring a small wrapped prize, and place it in a gift bag. Set up relay races, long jump, free-throw contest, water balloon toss, etc. The winner of each event picks a prize from the gift bag.
  • Work together. Ask the kids for help with outdoor chores like gardening or washing the car. This not only makes them feel important and involved, but also teaches responsibility and gives them exercise. Younger kids can easily water plants, pull weeds and help with planting, while the older kids can take on mowing, raking and mulching.
  • Play a night game. Continue the fun after dark and start a game of "Ghost in the Graveyard." Designate one person as the ghost. Everyone else counts while the ghost hides. The first player to find the ghost shouts, "Ghost in the graveyard!" and everyone runs home before the ghost can tag them. If someone is tagged before they reach home, they are the ghost for the next round. Finish the game with a backyard bonfire and come up with a funny ghost story, having each person take turns making up one line at a time.

If you're going to be playing outdoor family games, be sure to provide kids with plenty of water and have them reapply sunscreen every two hours.