From the Spring 2014 Conservationist for Kids
Photo: Daniel Avila
The Outside Page
By Gina Jack & Jeremy Taylor
For a real outdoor adventure you don't have to go far. Camping overnight in your own yard is a great way to get started, whether you're sleeping in a tent or out in the open under the stars. Once you're comfortable camping, try going to a campground or even on an overnight backpack or canoe trip. Check out DEC's campgrounds page for more information.
National Wildlife Federation's Great American Backyard Campout is always on the last Saturday in June. Make a meal over an open fire. Hot dogs on a stick and s'mores for dessert are easy and fun.
If you live in New York City, check out the Urban Park Rangers' family camping program. It's so popular there's a lottery to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.
Both overnight and day camps are great places for kids to spend time in nature and explore their world. Scouts, 4H groups and municipal recreation departments offer choices for campers of all ages. Many summer camps have special weekends for family camping. DEC summer camps offer kids between 11 and 17 years old a unique week-long residential outdoor environmental education experience at four different summer camps across the state. Check out the DEC summer camps page for more information, and also visit them on FaceBook!
For more information
DEC's Animals, Plants, Aquatic Life webpage
University of Michigan's BioKIDS - Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species
Nature Explorer Connecting Children with Nature
The Nature Conservancy's Nature Rocks - Let's Go Explore
Bateman's Backyard Birds by Robert Bateman (Barrons Educational Series, Inc., Hauppauge, NY, 2005)
Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-watching, Shore Walking by Jim Arnosky (Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2002)
Nature in Your Backyard: Simple Activities for Children by Susan Lang (Millbrook Press, Brookfield, CT, 1995)
My Nature Book: A Journal and Activity Book for Kids, 2nd Edition by Linda Kranz (Taylor Trade Publishing, Boulder, CO, 2013)
Pond Life by George Reid (Golden Guides from St. Martin's Press, New York, 2001)
Watching Nature: A Beginner's Field Guide by Monica Russo (Sterling Pub. Co., New York, 1998)
Clair Walker Leslie has written several books about nature exploration and nature journaling. Check your local library or search online for them.