June is Great Outdoors Month: Celebrate by Going Outside!

by Melissa Harding

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“The United States is blessed with a wealth of natural diversity that remains at the heart of who we are as a people. From breathtaking seascapes to the limitless stretch of the Great Plains, our natural surroundings animate the American spirit, fuel discovery and innovation, and offer unparalleled opportunities for recreation and learning. During Great Outdoors Month, we celebrate the land entrusted to us by our forebears and resolve to pass it on safely to future generations.”
– President Barak Obama, 2013 Great Outdoors Month Presidential Proclamation

June is right on the cusp of the seasons – not yet steeped in the intense heat of July, yet more dependable for sunny days and picnics than May. Half spring and half summer, June is a great time to get outside. Perhaps that’s why we celebrate Great Outdoors Month now – there is no better time to go hiking, bike riding or just lay in the sun than June. Being outside is not just fun, but good for you as well. Nature has a positive, direct impact on human health; it enhances the ability to cope with and recover from stress and illness, reduces the risk of obesity, increases happiness and positive life outlook, increases the body’s natural immunity to diseases, increases creativity, and improves mental health.  This is especially true of children, who benefit greatly from time spent outside as well. In addition to the above benefits, playing outside also makes children kinder and more compassionate, more confident and more likely to become a successful adult. Not bad for a game of catch, eh?

carn plantHere are just a few easy ideas to help you spend more time outside with your family this month:

Outdoor Recreation: Ride a bike, take a hike, go fishing, hop in a kayak or canoe, take a jog, visit a local or state parkgo camping in your backyard, go rollerblading or skating, play miniature golf, play catch or basketball, start a pick-up game in your yard or local park

Good Garden Fun: plant some flowers or vegetables, weed the garden and harvest produce, hunt for worms, play in the hose, watch the bird feeder, feed the squirrels, stop and smell the flowers, cook together with produce from the garden, create garden markers

Playing on the Porch: read a book, work on a craft project like knitting, crochet or painting, eat dinner outside as a family, play cards or board games, throw a BBQ for your friends and family

Art Outside: draw with chalk and watercolors on the sidewalk, paint the sidewalk with water, blow some bubbles, create a nature mandala, build a fairy house, create a colorful yarn weaving, build a fort, make a bird feeder or a bird nest helper, make a butterfly feeder

Even the internet wants you outside! Here are some great resources from around the web:

National Wildlife Foundation: great ideas for wildlife watching, hiking and other outdoor recreation activities
Great American Backyard Campout: June 22 – join the rest of the nation and sleep in your backyard
National Get Outdoors Day: June 8 – find a participating park or other site near you!
Let’s Move!: First Lady Michelle Obama has some great ideas for spending time outside as a family
Nature Rocks!: Learn where to go in your neighborhood for outdoor fun

Spending time in nature not just is proven to make you smarter and happier, but it’s also really enjoyable. Head outside today and have some fun!

The above pictures were taken by Christie Lawry and Molly Steinwald.

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