Reminiscence about sunshine and fresh air. A live oak tree beckoning to be climbed, its top waiting to be conquered - and once there, imagining faraway lands.
Creating forts in the undergrowth. Chasing butterflies. Catching bugs, frogs, and crawdads. Gazing at the night sky and dreaming of touching the stars. Walking barefoot on a dirt road in summertime. Skipping stones across the water or just throwing them to make the biggest splash.
Endless games of baseball and football. An ordinary stick becomes a sword, wand, or a tool to draw a treasure map in the dirt.
Maybe there’s a treasure, or perhaps a hidden map - but no matter what, there’s always adventure. And the only thing calling you home? A grumble in the tummy or the setting sun.
Free, natural play - whole generations may never feel that.
Now fast forward to the present. On average, Texas children ages 8-18 spend approximately 50 hours each week in front a screen. Computers, televisions, gaming systems, smartphones and other electronics are more than a full-time job for our children. As for unstructured time outside, today’s children only have about eight minutes a day.
With spring break in full swing, it’s time to unplug, go outside, and have some fun. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start, so here’s some family-friendly activities:
• Nature scavenger hunt.
Make a list of things to find like a leaf, a seed, point out an animal’s home, a pink rock or one with sparkles, find an animal’s tracks, and a blade of grass.
• Start a rock collection.
Just grab a box, egg carton, or any container to put your rocks in. Go outside and see what rocks you can find. Make up stories with your rocks. Paint them to make rock critters.
• Photo safari.
Have fun taking pictures and post them to our facebook page at www.facebook.com/goliadstatepark. Take pictures of a sunset, a flower, an insect, and a bird.
• Go for a bike ride or hike.
• Watch the clouds. What do you see?
• The stars are big and bright in Texas. Enjoy them! Not sure what you’re looking at? You can download a free app, Google Sky Map, for easy identification.
• Up for a treasure hunt? Geo-caching is the modern way to do it.
• Go fishing. There’s free fishing in Texas State Parks with no fishing license required. Don’t have a fishing pole? There are tackle loaner sites at many state parks. Just bring a photo ID and fishing bait.
• Make mud pies. Water and dirt, and be ready for a mess- it’s the best part.
• Listen. Take a few minutes to listen to the sounds of nature.
• Create an animal habitat. Turn a flower pot upside down and prop it up on some stones to create a home for toads.
And if you run out of ideas, just come by Goliad State Park. Through March 15, the park will host a Spring Break Celebration with daily activities and crafts (while supplies last) from 2 to 4 p.m.
Truly, life is better outside!