In 1998, President Clinton launched “Great Outdoors Week,” seven days to celebrate our relationship with nature in all of its facets: recreation, art, therapy, conservation, and so much more. So popular was the initiative that, over time, it blossomed into Great Outdoors Month. And, fitting for the time that heralds the start of summer, that month is June. So in honor of the month – and its hashtag, #EscapetheIndoors – today we’ll explore five different, creative ways to get outside. Change out of those work clothes and join us!
1) Conserve Our Trails
The United States has some 2,800 miles of trail: put together, they would stretch from coast to coast. Join the effort on June 1, National Trails Day, a one-day event to help restore and preserve our nation’s incredible trail network. You can take a pledge to clean out trash, join a trail work project, spruce up a local park - or host an event of your own! As this is the 51st anniversary of the National Trails System, there’s never been a better time to donate a day in order to keep that system in tip-top shape.
2) Use Your Screen… to Get You Off-Screen
Want to go on an outdoor adventure but don’t know where to start? Relax, the folks at REI – a partner of the SCA in promoting sustainable business practices – have got you covered. With their series of informative websites/mobile apps, you can set up the mountain climbing, hiking, skiing, biking, or national park trip that’s just right for you. Best of all, you can connect with other outdoor enthusiasts, share information, and find out about places only the pros know about. Sure beats breaking out those old maps that don’t fold back up.
3) Take Pictures
By helping you actively connect with your surroundings, nature photography is a great way to overcome that feeling of not knowing what to do outside. And you don’t have to be Ansel Adams to do it – by following some basic tips, you’ll soon be taking shots that may surprise you. Unlike in generations past, you don’t have to invest in expensive equipment to take quality photos: to start, look no farther than your smartphone. And with sharing sites like Instagram, you can acquire a following for your work and connect with other nature lovers in no time.
4) Become a Dog Walker
There’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors than sharing it with a furry friend. If you don’t want the full-time responsibility of owning a pet, become a dog walker! With sites like Wag and Rover, you can create a profile, list your location and availability, download a handy application, and accept the walking jobs that best work for you. Besides the fun of canine bonding, you’ll have the added bonus of making a little money to spend on your next big outdoor excursion.
5) Let the Kids Call the Shots
In these days of play dates and organized everything, unstructured play is exactly what your children need for their physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being. And it can be contagious for adults, too. Take your child – or niece, nephew, cousin, or grandchild – outside and tell them that they’re in charge. It may take a bit to get going, but before you know it, you’ll be turning a boulder into a medieval castle, wading in a stream, or creating new dance moves in a field. And if there are no children in your family, consider volunteering to be a Big Brother or Big Sister.
The more we interact with the outdoors, the more we create an emotional connection with nature. From there, preserving the environment becomes a natural gesture of caring, rather than another arduous task to add to our already-busy schedules. For more opportunities to get outside while learning new skills and meeting new people, check out our SCA summer internship opportunities.