School is looking a little different these days. Throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, schools have closed for the remainder of the academic year, leaving many adjusting to a new normal. How do I continue to educate my children while keeping them both safe and entertained? We may not be able to send them to a classroom, but we can send to the world’s greatest teacher – the great outdoors!
Getting outside provides education, entertainment, and many health benefits for both kids and adults. Here are a few outdoor activities you can do with your kids, while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
1. Go Fishing
You know what they say about fishing… “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Teach your kids the lesson of a lifetime! With Virginia being home to over 176,000 acres of public lakes and 27,300 miles of fishable streams, there is no shortage of places to go! Be sure to purchase your license online before heading out and maintain proper social distance.
2. Explore TikTok
If your kids have been glued to their screens watching the latest TikTok dances, head to your own yard or nearby Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and learn the dances together! Further inspire their creativity by encouraging them to create their own dance or video too. You can get some exercise, fresh air, and provide some entertainment to those passing by (6’ feet apart, of course).
3. Go Hunting
It’s spring turkey time! Kicking off the season with the “Youth and Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunting Weekend” April 4-5, this is a great time to take your kids and experience an exciting weekend outdoors! Children ages 12-15 and those who have not previously purchased a regular hunting license, are required to complete hunter education.
Regular Virginia Spring Turkey Season begins on April 11 and runs through May 16. There’s no better way to socially distance than in the woods!
4. Go Boating
Do you have a boat or know someone who does? Spring is here and the weather is looking enticing for outdoor recreation. Take your kids out on a local lake or river, or hit the coast for an enjoyable day on the water. Make sure to keep your group small and maintain an appropriate social distance while fueling and launching your boat. Bring along your fishing gear for added fun!
5. Go Hiking
Kids in need of an adventure? Take them for a hike! Whether it’s short or long, on a path or a trail, a walk outdoors is great for physical and mental health. We recommend you carry bug spray, bring plenty of fluids, and a make a plan for returning to your car so you don’t get lost. Be sure to share your plans with family or friends and let them know you are safe upon return. Be mindful of all open hunting and trapping seasons, and be sure to wear blaze colored hat or clothing. Lastly, always leave the path or trail as clean as or cleaner than when you found it. Take only photos and leave only footprints.
Try exploring one of Virginia’s 46 Wildlife Management Areas including the above-pictured Big Woods WMA.
6. Go Biking
If your kids know how to ride a bike, now is a great time for them to put their skill to good use! Whether it’s just around the neighborhood or on an off-road trail, riding a bike is a great social distancing activity for kids of all ages and fitness levels. The Luray-Hawksbill Greenway is just one of many public areas where biking is safe and peaceful.
7. Go Camping
Whether in your own backyard or at one of Virginia’s many beautiful WMAs, grab your gear and have some fun. Camping is a great way to ease stress and take a break from screen time. Have your kids put down the phone or tablet and create memories in nature that will last a lifetime. If primitive camping just isn’t for you, hop online and start planning your fall camping trip to one of Virginia’s 28 states parks so you have something to look forward to.
8. Watch the Falcom Cam
Although you don’t have to be outside to enjoy this one, go watch The DGIF Falcon Cam! The live video stream follows the breeding season of a Peregrine Falcon pair that nests in downtown Richmond, Virginia. The nest box is located atop the Riverfront Plaza building.
9. Go Paddling
Whether you have a kayak, stand up paddleboard, or canoe, break out those paddles and go explore a local waterway. Don’t forget your life jackets and a whistle. Need some help figuring out where to go? There’s a guide for that.
10. Go Bugging
Explore the excitement of bugs! Grab some gloves, a magnifying glass, and your camera, and head down to the neighborhood creek to see what critters you can find. Frogs eat insects so if you see one of these guys, you’re on the right track! Roll over a log, check under the rocks, zoom into the bark of a tree or open your eyes to flying bugs. Once you have documented the character traits and descriptions, learn more about their beauty and might here with the Insect Identification tools for the casual observer.