Ten Ways to Get Kids Active on NPLD
National Public Lands Day supports the Let’s Move Outside initiative by providing innovative opportunities for youth to be active outside. In addition to volunteering, here are 10 things you can do at your National Public Lands Day (NPLD) site to get kids moving and having fun. Download the fact sheet (PDF).
1. President’s Challenge: Invite kids to take the challenge - the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge! Get them moving for the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity with a wide range of sports and games, including obstacle courses, skateboarding, volleyball, basketball or softball. Learn more about the Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards.
2. Cache In–Trash Out: Geocaching is a great way to combine technology and exploring the outdoors. As kids are looking for their next ‘cache’, they can pick up litter and help improve their public land. Learn more about geocaching.
3. Hiking: Many NPLD volunteer events focus on building new hiking trails or restoring existing trails. Show kids what all their hard work was for by taking them on a hike. If possible, set up educational tables along the trail that teach Leave No Trace principles, fire safety or wildlife identification. Learn more about hiking.
4. Host a Fishing or Birding Derby: Teach kids a new skill that they can use during future trips to public lands. Demonstrate how to fish or identify birds using field guides. After they practice their new skills, hold a contest with prizes for the largest fish caught or the most birds identified. Learn more about fishing and bird identification.
5. Fun Fee - Free Day: An unfortunate reality is that many families feel that they cannot participate in recreational activities because of the cost of renting equipment. One way to reintroduce families to the outdoors is by eliminating the rental fees on equipment in honor of NPLD. Allow families to use bikes, kayaks, or fishing poles for free for a day and potentially offer discount for future rentals. Learn about the National Park Service’s fee-free entrance days.
6. Explore their Creative Side: The outdoors often serves as inspiration for art, music, theater and photography. Provide kids with cameras, art supplies, or a stage and allow them to show you why they care about the outdoors. Younger kids can make leaf rubbings, paint bird boxes or act out animals that live in their neighborhood. View creative activities online.
7. BioBlitz: Turn kids into amateur scientists! A BioBlitz is a wildlife scavenger hunt. Using handheld tools, field guides and help from adults, kids try to identify as many different species as possible. Along the way, they get dirty and learn about ecology and the wonders of the outdoors. Learn more about organizing BioBlitzes.
8. Mountain Biking: Grab a bike and take the kids off road on a mountain biking adventure. Many kids have only ridden bikes in their backyards or along city streets. A day on a mountain biking trail will show how recreation and exercise can take them to new heights and experience the natural world in a different way. Learn more about mountain biking.
9. Play is for Everyone: Let’s Move Outside is not just about getting kids active. It focuses on the whole family learning how to make healthy lifestyle choices. Use NPLD as a way to bring families together through scavenger hunts, races, games and sports activities. Read about national campaigns to get families outdoors.
10. Celebrate Recreation and Nature with a Festival: Not sure which of the above activities would be best for your NPLD event? Consider hosting a festival that combines them all into a day of fun, the outdoors and recreation. Local government agencies, nonprofits, schools or businesses could lead activities. If possible, create a ‘passport’ where kids receive a stamp after participating in an activity and then a prize at the end of the day. View an example of a ‘passport’ used by the Massachusetts state park system.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Here are some great example NPLD events that have supported the initiatives of Let’s Move Outside!
Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan
Volunteers celebrated the completion of a trail and boardwalk by taking a hike on the North Country National Scenic Trail.
Caesar Creek Lake, Ohio
The US Army Corps of Engineers at Caesar Creek Lake are experts at holding BioBlitzes. They even created a website explaining how they do it and their yearly findings. Check it out online.
Myles Standish State Forest, Massachusetts
Last year was the 4th annual Take Me Fishin’ celebration with fishing tutorials and education programs on the pine barrens.
Mary Vagle Nature Center, California
The City of Fontana hosted an educational fair with interpretive activities and guided hikes.
Crooked Creek Lake, Pennsylvania
The past two years Crooked Creek Lake has led a Cache In - Trash Out event where families pick up litter and debris as they go geocaching. It is a really popular yearly event.
Shelf Road Recreation Area, Colorado
At the 18th annual Shelf Road Volunteer Weekend, participants could go rock climbing, camping, hiking and horseback riding. Kids could also receive training in Leave No Trace principles and land stewardship.
King Range National Conservation Area, California
After volunteers completed restoring a trail, they were treated to mountain biking trips of varying skill levels.
Railroad Bridge Park, Washington
The Dungeness River Festival is a community celebration focused on the Dungeness River and its importance to the region. The festival featured exhibits, walks and activities for the whole family.
Throughout Bay City, Michigan
The Bay County Office of Environmental Affairs hosted a training and event to identify the neighborhood street trees to look for emerald ash borer.
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NPLD is a Friend to Friends Groups
Friends Groups are vital to the long term health and growth of public lands. NPLD supports Friends Groups through webinars, educational materials and the Every Day Grants program. Learn more about each of these opportunities in our resources section.
NPLD Supports Let’s Move Outside
Participating in NPLD is a great way to get the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity, while you lend a hand for public lands. Learn more about Let’s Move Outside and how NPLD is involved in the national movement.