A Summer Backyard Bucket List for Kids
By Anne Janik
Two Colorado littles exploring a trail on the Grand Mesa National Forest.
It’s half way through July, and there are a million things to do outside if you’re a kid! If you are feeling a little bored, check out “the list” your friends made of 100 things every kid absolutely has to do before they are 12. You would be surprised at the things you have already done, but there are so many more new ”to do’s” to check off. For instance, have you peeked under a rock in a creek to see what’s underneath, walked a tight-rope on a log, dug for worms, danced in the rain, waded in a stream or spotted the big dipper? These are just a few of those 100 things. Need the list? You can download it from Generation Wild – The List. Most of these things you can do in a park, or in your backyard. You don’t have to go far to have fun outside- you just need to go! How about making a worm hotel, or a sock garden? Bake some tasty s’mores in a sun oven or make a soda bottle sprinkler? You can get video instructions on these backyard hacks and more at generationwild.com.
Parents, being outside surrounded by nature can have amazing effects on your kiddos but sometimes it is tough to figure out how to motivate your kids to go outside and play. The Generation Wild Movement, sponsored by Get Outdoor Colorado has plenty of fresh ideas to help you raise an outdoor kid, from kids nature books, to cool apps like Sky Guide which makes stargazing simple, or Merlin - a free app that identifies any bird in North America.
Interested in expanding your home range? Some say we have the best backyard around the west with acres of outstanding public lands. There are almost 40,000 miles of public trails in Colorado and many of them are not far from your neighborhood.
Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) is an app that is your guide to finding and exploring those trails. COTREX features maps for the trailheads across federal, state, local, and private lands with public access in Colorado. Shared knowledge by local users on hiking and Mountain biking trails is an incredible source of the best up-to-date information. The Western Colorado Hiking Project includes 25 featured hikes and 5 (not to miss) gems while the Western Colorado Mountain Biking Project provides information on 280 bike trails in the area including 37 featured rides.
Friends of Youth and Nature (FOYAN) is a non-profit that is a one stop shop to connect you and your kids to outdoor adventures: hiking and mountain bike trails, organizations that provide really cool nature adventures and places to rent gear in Montrose, Mesa and Delta Counties. FOYAN also provides links to maps and apps that will help you find the best places to explore. Take a look at the FOYAN website (friendsofyouthandnature.org) and find out who is sponsoring nature and outdoor programs near you.
Nature is good for kids in so many ways! It promotes confidence, creativity, imagination, a sense of wonder, and teaches responsibility. And, believe it or not, studies show interaction with nature reduces stress and fatigue in our children. Maybe the adults could use a bit of that Nature RX as well! There’s no shortage of outdoor adventures waiting for your kids in western Colorado. These resources will help you and your kids make the most of this summer.