Nature rocks…and so does time with your family.

Doesn’t it always seem like clocks tick faster during the summer?  This summer is already halfway over, and I have been trying to make the most of the warm (and humid!), sunshine-filled weather before it is sweater season once again.  One of my favorite outdoor activities is hiking with my husband David, and shown in this photo is one of the many gorges found on the trails of Watkins Glen State Park, in Watkins Glen, NY.  There is sometimes no better escape from our technologically-driven universe than spending 1-2 hours among the very best things biology has to offer, like trees and waterfalls.

Nature Rocks, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging families to explore nature together, agrees with me.  Their webpage is one of the most comprehensive guides to experiencing the outdoors I have found so far.  Not only do they have an application that helps users “find nature” by searching their zip code for different types of outdoor activities, but they also have a searchable database of science experiments and activities that are both fun and educational for kids of all ages.

Join Nature Rocks! on Facebook and you can benefit from live user comments and activity suggestions.  One activity suggested this week by a Nature Rocks! reader was, “Take your kids on a tour of your neighborhood with a sketchbook in hand so that they can draw their favorite plants and animals.”  What a great idea!  Not only will they get to spend some time outside, but they will also practice making observations and recording them (and bonus – your refrigerator will get redecorated in the process)!  Adults are never too old to join in this kind of fun either; I actually did something similar in my freshman year biology course while visiting a park near my school’s campus, though I was restricted to drawing certain kinds of plants.  Though I had gone on several Saturday morning distance runs through this very same park previously, I noticed birds and flowers on this class trip that I had never seen during all of those workouts.  It’s amazing what lowering the intensity of your life can do for your observation skills!

Nature Rocks was founded by the Children & Nature Network and ecoAmerica, and has been brought to life through partnerships with The Nature Conservancy, REI, the Flora Family Foundation, and American Camp Association.  If you are interested in getting involved in their cause by promoting just how much nature rocks, submit your own ideas (or family memories) for outdoor activities on their Facebook page or contact info@naturerocks.org.