Guest Post: Top 5 Ways My Family Benefited from a Summer of Outdoor Play

Last summer, my kids and I participated in KaBoom!’s second annual Park-A-Day Challenge (now the Summer Playground Challenge).  The goal of the challenge was to help KaBoom! create a national “Map of Play.” We visited over 50 parks in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we really enjoyed the variety and diversity of the new parks we discovered.

Visiting over 50 parks certainly has it benefits – I’ve picked the top five to share with you:

  1. First of all, we got great exercise – riding bikes, climbing nets, swinging high, playing tag, speeding down slides and hanging from the monkey bars.  I knew my kids would be quiet on the way home if their faces were red and their hair stuck to their foreheads.
  2. Second, we made a lot of new friends.  Once my kids found others their own age they would introduce themselves and strike up a conversation. Pretty soon they were playing together, just like they’d known each other for years. On those days we’d have a tough time leaving because my kids were having so much fun with their new pals.
  3. Third, we explored nature in so many ways.  We’d lie on a blanket and decide what animals the clouds looked like.  We found tons of bugs and redirected several lines of ants.  At the parks with creeks we made dams out of sticks and mud. One time, my son had a quite funny tug-of-war fight with an ambitious raccoon for his lunch. And oh, how we loved taking time to watch the squirrels.
  4. Fourth, we practiced science without even knowing it!  Every time my daughter tried to swing higher she was practicing physics.  My son loved finding the right mixture of water and sand to make a sturdy sand castle – viola! – chemistry.  At one park we even encountered a swarm of bees, which prompted a great discussion about biology!
  5. Finally, we spent time together as a family free from the computer and television screens.  We made each other laugh, we practiced cooperation and taking turns, and my kids realized that having a brother and/or sister was actually pretty cool…especially when you needed someone to push you on the swings!

Brenda Roberts reviews neighborhood parks, amusement parks, and water and skate parks on her website,