I am a 22, almost 23 year old guy and kids these days make me feel old. How crazy is that. One generation later and the world is completely different. Growing up I have so many amazing memories of being outside and in the wild. Many of the happiest and most memorable times from when I was a kid consisted of camping, hiking, sports, the beach… The list really does go on and on. And the commonality among all of these activities? None of them needed an internet connection, involved a smartphone, or a social network.

By now you must be thinking I am a super conservative anti-change type of guy who cannot cope with reality of a changing world. Well you would be pretty wrong (and partially right). But that is besides the point. Kids these days spend too much time indoors, on the couch, plugged in and not really living.

Parents want to do a better job connecting with their kids, and for my family at least, the best form of bonding was always done in nature. Here are a few family activities that are also environmentally friendly and really fun:The Great Outdoors - Green Living

1) Hiking – Accessing The Great Outdoors

One of the easiest adventures of all time. Grab the family, hop into the car and drive to the nearest set of hills or mountains. Pack a picnic lunch and you have the makings of a great day trip. Odds are, by googling hiking in your area you can find a multitude of different trails and locations to explore.

Hiking is great exercise and perfect for little kids with big imaginations. Just note that little ones will get tired so try not to plan too long of hikes. A fun game you can play is to try and identify different types of trees or animals you see along your journey. Hiking is also the perfect time to take some great nature pictures.

2) Photography

Speaking of taking great pictures, photography is an awesome hobby. Photography is an art and great way to express yourself. It is amazingly hard to become good at photography, but if your child has a natural skill for it, it could potentially become a rewarding career option.

I always loved nature landscapes, but some prefer animal or action shots. An awesome idea for you family is to build your own family National Geographic. Compile your best pics and create a journal or scrapbook of the finest. This would make a life-long treasure for your family full of awesome memories. And just to be cliche….a picture is really worth 1000 words.

3) Remote Control Toys

I loved RC Cars growing up. Those and Legos were two of my favorite toys to play with. Building things and racings things, guess that is why I studied engineering.

Seriously though, RC toys can be a great family time. My dad and I would fly RC planes or race cars all the time. It was relaxing and competitive. We bonded by beating up on each other’s vehicle in an effort to win at any cost. More recently, I have gotten into RC Boats tinkering. You will love that you can spend a long sunny afternoon at the park flying or the pond driving your remote control boat.

4) Biking – A Green Living Activity

Biking is great. It is like going for a nature walk, but you go faster so you get to see more. As a kid, I would often go on long bike rides with my mom. Just strap on you helmet(always wear a helmet) and pedal away. It is such a relaxing activity that just allows you to take in your surrounding and do some soul searching.

If you are looking for a more adrenaline based hobby, go with mountain biking. Racing along narrow, rugged trails through the middle of the woods is crazy fun and amazing exercise. Just remember to have a map or you may get lost(which is no fun at all, trust me). A decent mountain bike is a great investment if find yourself in love with the thrills.

5) Camping

Camping is really the perfect way to spend a weekend. It is a very inexpensive and memorable vacation. We did a fair bit of camping growing up. We owned a small little pop-up camper that the five of us would sleep in. and every day was awesome. When you’re camping, you wake up early and go outside into the sunlight. It is custom to then try and start a fire, who knows why but you’re camping so you just make fires all the time. Then breakfast, you don’t shower ’cause your camping, and now it is time to explore. During the day you hike, or bike, or play tons of board games. Now it is dinner time. You need to get the grill ready, bring water from the tap at the bathroom to boil, and make the food you would almost never eat at home but love here.

You eat with a lantern cause it is dark out and them do the dishes. Now the fun begins again. The grown ups sit down by the fire to talk and kids play hide and go seek or kick the can. Then you have Smores. Everyone loves Smores. They are perfect.

Seriously though, camping is probably the single greatest activity you can do as a family thing. Unless someone has certain issues with germs or cleanliness, you will remember this for the rest of your life. Even if the weather sucks and it rains all day long, you will still reminisce happily about the annoyance of it and all the games you played in your tent/camper while trying to survive the flood.

So leave your cell phones and iPads at home and go build some truly incredible experiences in the great outdoors.

Matt Ward is a New Yorker now living in Georgia. He is a “remote control” enthusiast with diverse interests such as  sports, travel, and the outdoors  In addition, he is working on building a sports social media app with some friends, and has started his own business and historical website.

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Filed under: Living Green

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