The Indiana Department of Natural Resources hopes to encourage families to get outside this year to enjoy the many outdoor activities the state has to offer. To help with this effort, they have established a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, which lists 11 challenges for children to accomplish in order to receive a Hoosier Outdoor Child certificate — while encouraging a lot of fun, too!.
Items on the list include exploring and playing outdoors in a safe place; planting a seed and watching it grow; splashing and playing in streams, lakes and ponds; following a trail to discover plants and wildlife; and using all five senses to enjoy the environment.
The activities are meant to encourage healthy, outdoor adventures, and kids will walk away with experiences they won’t soon forget.
Other items on the list include:
Go Fishing or Hunting
Not only is a fishing or hunting trip a memorable experience for most, but kids can also benefit from the coordination, fine motor skills and planning skills. The outdoor activity also builds confidence, teaches perseverance and patience — all skills that will aid them throughout life.
Discover and Celebrate Indiana’s Past
The Indiana State Museum offers a list of historic sites around the state, including Angel Mounds in Evansville, the Corydon Capitol in Corydon and the Levi and Catharine Coffin House in Fountain City, among many others. Some of the State Museum’s suggestions help children learn about the Underground Railroad, famous artists and authors, and what it was like in Indiana in the 1800s.
Camp Under the Stars
Like fishing and hunting, camping is all about the experience. From Raccoon Lake to Clifty Falls State Park, there are plenty of camping sites in the state. Kids have an opportunity to unplug, connect with friends and family, and learn something new. Perhaps a weekend under the stars will encourage a love for nature and animals. Camping can teach basic survival skills, build self esteem and teach kids that sometimes less is more.
Climb a Tree
For parents, this might be a risky endeavor, but for the kids, it’s all adventure. Climbing a tree is a physical challenge, requires hand and eye coordination, and gives kids an incredible boost in confidence when they reach their goal. A little bit of problem solving and concentration will help kids when issues arise that aren’t as “simple” as climbing that maple in your backyard.
Visit a Farm
There are so many different kinds of farms across the state and each one offers something special and a great experience for children. Check out Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield or the Farm at Prophetstown in Prophetstown State Park just outside West Lafayette, or Traders Pointe Creamery in Zionsville. Whether you choose to stay close to home or take a day trip, visiting with pigs, goats, chickens, horses, cows, sheep and more, will teach children about caring for animals and where their food comes from.
Share Nature With a Friend
All of these activities are fun when shared with someone else. Bring a friend with you on the camping trip or for a day of climbing trees and hiking on trails. The experiences and conversations you’ll have will bond and connect everyone to nature and to each other.
Once you’ve completed all items on the list, visit www.in.gov/dnr to print out the Hoosier Outdoor Child certificate and begin making your own list of fun, outdoor activities to do next time.