Healthy Kids    

Get out and stay out!



Ideas to encourage your kids to get outdoors

It’s September and the weather can be beautiful in our region. The Hudson Valley is ripe with outdoor offerings strong enough to woo even the most reluctant of children into the fresh air.

Although your kids may be busy with their afterschool activities, it can be fun to plan activities as a family.

My kids have learned that although I have the luxury of working from home that does not mean I am available to be their entertainment director. While I am at work, non-emergency interruptions and pleas for amusement are met with a list of extra chores to choose from.

It's amazing how quickly they get inspired to climb trees, ride their bikes or do pretty much anything other than chores.

When my work is done and my own restlessness has me looking for outdoor fun I, too, can sometimes use some advice on the Hudson Valley's offerings. With a little help from two Hudson Valley moms,I found plenty of inspiration.

Start with the web

A visit to websites like MyFamilyTripPlanner.com and the Hudson Valley Tourism website offer a comprehensive overview of options. A special kids' section is dedicated to a range of activities so broad it defies the possibility of not having at least one choice your child will happily unplug for. Examples of great outdoor activities found on the web your kids will enjoy include:

  • Mini-golf
  • Hiking trails
  • Paintball
  • War reenactments

Simply put, for kids who already love the outdoors and are in search of activities, as well as for parents of children who may be less-enthusiastic about fresh air, the Hudson Valley contains enough options for everyone. I know our family enjoys the bike trails.

8 Summer Family Fun Ideas


Ask your daycare provider for help

Are you a working parent, worried about your child spending the too much time indoors while in daycare? Relax! There are options for your child, too. Ask your daycare provider if the kids get outside as much as the weather permits or will they be inside for most of the day?

Encouraging children to be outdoors from an early age can instill an appreciation for it that will carry into their adult lives. Lisa Pesola, a mother of two from Pine Bush, runs her daycare, Fort Discovery, from her home.

"Basically anything that we want to teach our kids can be done outside," says Pesola. "The whole foundation of respect, compassion, empathy are right outside in nature if you just slow down and let them observe and enjoy it." 

Lessons to be learned

Lessons can be taught on the porch, where seedlings sprout before the kids plant them in raised gardens. "Kids really love gardening," says Pesola. Like she does with her own children, she helps the kids at Fort Discovery plant their own gardens. Vegetables grown in those gardens are fed to the kids at lunch or divvied up and sent home with them. "Kids are more likely to eat vegetables they

have grown themselves," says Pesola. "They also have the added benefit of having fun as they garden."

In mid-August the kids picked tomatoes and cucumbers. “Our carrots didn’t do that well,” said Lisa. “They look strange.” Now they are waiting for their pumpkins to grow and hopefully they will be ready to be picked by early October.

In recent years, Pesola has noticed a decline in children's enthusiasm for being outdoors and points to parents' increasing concern with dirt and germs. A tree in her front yard is often laden with her kids and their friends hanging from its limbs.

Tips for removing ticks


Many parents have cautioned her about the dangers of a child falling from the tree. While it's natural to be protective of your children, Pesola cautions against over-protecting them. She believes there is a fine line between keeping your child safe and scaring them.

"I have some children come here, and they are afraid of ladybugs," she says.  In time, Pesola manages to help parents and children alike not only ease into outdoor life, but embrace it.

Join your kids outdoors

Cheryl and Jeff Piché, Hudson Valley parents of two, have their own way to encourage their kids to be outside. "We try to be outside with them," says Cheryl. “We love going snowboarding, paintball and hiking. One time Jeff had the boys restore  an old trailer that was junk. When it's done, they got to sell it and keep the money themselves."

A little willingness is all it takes

Whether you want to grab your car keys and take a drive to an outdoor adventure, or are looking for something to do in your own backyard, you can help your child love the outdoors with a little ingenuity and the willingness to get some dirt under your nails.

Barbara Allen is a freelance writer and a mother of four from the Hudson Valley.