Few things unite Americans like the love for the great outdoors. Perhaps it’s because our backyards are filled to the brim with mountains, lakes, prairies, and forests, or perhaps there’s something stifling about a roof over our heads. Whatever the reason, nearly 50 percent of all Americans partake in outdoor recreation in one form or another, with one in four doing so more than once per week. How can American families who love the outdoors enjoy them in a responsible fashion so our children and grandchildren experience the same sights and sounds?
Fun Activities the Family Can Enjoy Together
Hunting in the United States offers both recreation and sustenance and is a check on natural population limits. Each year there are 12.5 million hunters who go off in search of deer, elk, bear, rabbit, or waterfowl to bring back home. Hunting certain species and types of game helps to regulate a healthy ecosystem: since natural predators like wolves cannot populate areas with humans, humans need to be the natural predators of species like deer. When teaching your kids to hunt, emphasize the need to take sick or old animals rather than young and healthy, so that the species stay robust and is capable of surviving.
All Terrain Vehicles and Dirt Bikes
There’s no limit to the fun quotient when you’re on the back of an all-terrain vehicle. Whether you want to plow through mud bogs or zoom up the side of a mountain, ATVs and dirt bikes offer families the ability to see sights that they wouldn’t be able to see on regular roads. Minimize the impact of your machine by only driving on established routes and not over plant growth. Emphasize safety as well as preservation when you plan a family ATV trip. Gear up at a reputable motocross store to get kid-sized safety gear, including helmets and padding. Make sure you aren’t burning off too much oil and gas by getting terrain-appropriate tires that either grip soft ground or roll over hard surfaces.
The cliff faces in national parks like Yosemite may look daunting at the bottom, but when you get to the top you feel like you can see the entire world unfold around you. Rock climbing is an eco-friendly family pastime. Since there are so few species of plants or animals that can live in cliff faces you have little risk of harming the wildlife. Avoid climbing on maritime cliffs, however, since the softer rock faces pose hazards and the number of animals and plants that depend on the crevices for habitation increases. In a dry, temperate environment the only eco-risk you face when rock climbing is attaching your harness to a tree that cannot support the weight. If you cannot find trees at least two feet thick to anchor to, use a boulder instead to keep your family’s weight secure while climbing. Also be sure the entire family has received lessons in climbing safety before getting too far off the ground.
Spring is right around the corner, and with the temperatures warming up, get on out there in the sunshine and enjoy some family time with your kids and forget about the horrible winter that most everyone has endured!