by Bailey Gaddis – Collectively, much of humanity has developed a habit of dissolving into the vortex of technology; we log in to invisible connections and tune out physical surroundings. While technological capacities at our disposal can be fabulous when harmonized with the act of turning it all off to connect with nature and joy in time spent with family that matter.
Camping- a wonderful opportunity to forfeit cell service, leave power outlets behind, and go roll in the dirt with our kids.
Since it can be difficult to remember what the heck we did before screens, I wracked my memory for ways to connect with nature and gathered a list of battery-free, family-fun activities to accompany an overnight stay in the woods. (It helps that I’m writing this while camping, with an ole fashion pen and pad of paper, alongside my toddler who is making dust angels.)
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Here are five ideas to transform a summer camping trip from a stuff-schlepping mission to a transformative voyage flush with family bonding, fresh air, and s’mores- lots of s’mores.
5 Ways To Connect With Nature
1. Scavenger Hunts
Engage in a reconnaissance mission around the campground, scouting out various treasures found by your kids. Scavenger hunts provide children an opportunity to connect with nature by tapping into the intricacies of the world because they will be required to closely examine their natural surroundings if they are to fulfill the search (check out this great picnic-themed hunt provided by OFM reader and nature writer, Debi Huang).
Click HERE to print Picnic Scavenger Hunt
Bonus: Honor your blip of time alone with a moment or two of sitting in silence, allowing the energy of nature to release worries and fill you with that all-too-elusive flow of serenity.
2. Star Gazing
Find a clearing that offers an unobstructed view of the sky, lay out a cozy blanket large enough for the entire family, look up, and instantly connect with nature. Do some research in the light of day regarding constellations and the science behind them.
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Your family will be impressed when you whip out that the sky was divvied up into 88 constellations in the year 1922. Savor a few moments of silence to soak in the enormity of our universe, and the miracles that live within it.
First person to see a shooting star gets an extra s’more!
3. Food Preparation
Food tastes better when you’re camping. It just does. Find easy meals children can help prepare, instilling pride in their ability to contribute, and a tiny break for you.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Bring a bag of pre-cut vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms. Ask kids to create their own combinations on long skewers, then roast their own food over the fire.
- Shucking corn is fun, too, so have the kids shuck their own, then wrap in foil with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper, and place in the coals or on a firetop grill.
- As you’ve likely gathered, I would like more s’mores, please. If you want to remove a few doses of sugar and add a bit of nutrition, substitute marshmallows with roasted bananas. You can even cook the chocolate inside a banana with peel left on.
4. Build A Fort
Stoke your children’s creativity and ingenuity by having them create a unique fort or shelter, remembering the rule of using only downed plants or trees. There will likely be plenty of materials in the form of fallen branches, leaves, bark, and sap or pitch- the stickier the better, will help your family connect with nature.
5. Fireside Story Circle
The creation of impromptu stories allows the mind to bloom and reveal colorful ideas. Sit in a circle around the fire and have one member of the family start a story with a few sentences. For example, “Once upon a time, there was an elf named Shamus that lived in the laundry room of a manor in Scotland. He enjoyed the task of sneaking one or two socks out of each pile of laundry and was leading a very content life until one day” The next person in the circle adds to the story and on it goes.
Honor the fun-filled lightness floating in the air by checking out of the technological rat race and into the gifts awaiting us in the outdoors, and remember it’s not too hard to connect with nature, but you have to disconnect first.
Bailey Gaddis is a mother, writer, hypnotherapist, hypnobirthing practitioner, birth doula, and amateur smoothie chef. When she isn’t digging in the dirt with her son, she’s washing her hands so she can write, or cook a dinner that only contains a minimal amount of earthly residue. Bailey lives with her family in Ojai, CA and blogs at Feng Shui Mommy.