a Junior Ranger badge
Nine fun and inexpensive outdoor family
Outdoor recreation has long been touted as a great way for families to exercise
and have fun together. Not only does it provide inexpensive entertainment, but
it is The Cheapest
Medicine. Communing with nature provides a sense of well being and
relaxation. Children begin to explore in infancy, so there is little reluctance
in engaging them in hiking, camping, or other outdoor activities. So, no matter
if you live in the Rocky Mountains or New York City, life’s an adventure. Head out to your favorite spot and enjoy the outdoors
no. 1 - Camping:
be thrifty. You don't have to pay a lot for good gear. With
internet stores like Campmor, Sierra Trading Post, and REI, it's easy to
shop prices. Don't be shy about purchasing second hand
gear from Ebay or your local thrift store. Oftentimes, items
are like new and cost a lot less. We
use two, Kelty brand (2) person tents. One for the parents and one for the
kids. They are light weight, easy to assemble and don't take
up a lot of cargo space. TIP ~ A
dresser drawer is ideal for keeping an infant safe and warm.
As for the food, make it easy on
yourself. A single burner camp stove is compact and ideal for
quick outdoor cooking. A can of beans, hot dogs and chili took
me about 15 minutes to cook and serve on a recent camping trip. Tuna, carrot sticks, and
crackers are another high protein choice to keep you going.
Whole grain cereals, nuts, and fruit make for a high energy breakfast.
You don't have to be on a special diet to benefit from vitamin drinks
like Boost. They are better chilled but don't require
refrigeration and everyone gets their calcium. If you're
camping in cold weather, a good sleeping bag is a must. Before
laying down your mats, line
the floor of your tent with old blankets for added insulation
against the cold ground. Remember, a good attitude sets the tone
for a successful trip.
Now here is
some insight from M&E about what they think about camping. E thinks
that it is more fun the day that
you get to the campsite. The day that you wake up and have to go home
or continue your vacation makes you feel too rushed. When you wake
up the next day it is cold. You have to get dressed in
your small tent, but camping is still real fun. E likes rocky
campgrounds, campgrounds with woods, or a stream so that she can have a
lot of fun. Sitting by a campfire roasting marshmallows is real
fun. Sometimes our mom tells scary stories and really scares us.
I, "M", get really scared when I hear animals walking around the
campsite. I don't know what to do. One of the best parts of
camping is playing at the campsite. Read
and Bears, for an account of our camping trip to the beautiful Many
Glacier area of Glacier National Park.
Idea no. 2 - Snowshoeing:
Snowshoes can be expensive, especially if you have
kids to outfit. But, once the initial investment is made, they
should provide you with many winters of snowshoeing fun. They are
less expensive than skis and buying an annual pass to the local
ski resort. Admittedly, they can be a little difficult to put
on at first, but with some patience and practice the task becomes
easier and the bonus is that you can explore in deep snow. TIP
~ Before you buy, if possible attend a snowshoeing
such as "Identifying Tracks in Winter". Free seminars
are informative and educational, and snowshoes are usually provided
free of charge. This gives you the opportunity to decide if you are
compatible with the sport before making a purchase. Rental is
another economical option that I suggest to help you make your
decision. When you do purchase, I recommend the affordable
. They come
in Men, Women, and Junior sizes, are made of light weight
aluminum and anodized in attractive colors. To find your size,
simple use the snowshoe weight chart for your preferred style.
Here's what E has to say about snowshoeing. Snowshoeing
can be fun if you are climbing a mountain with
skiers and snowboarders zooming past. Rent them
at Glacier National Park, for a weekend snowshoe walk in winter.
Snowshoeing is a very beneficial sport. It keeps your legs fit. The
outdoors and fresh air of Montana will also keep you in good health.
So, get out there and snowshoe through the deep snow of Montana.
Read Snowshoe Fun on Winter Trails Day, a story about a free,
organized snowshoe outing for the whole family.
Idea no. 3 - Get a
Junior Ranger badge:
Take advantage of your State Parks and National Parks.
provide simple settings in nature where families can explore, hike,
picnic, fish and observe wildlife. National Parks are extraordinary
places set aside for their natural beauty and abundant wildlife.
Hiking, camping, boating, and simply enjoying the outdoors in a
National Park makes for a memorable experience. hile visiting,
let the kids get a Junior Ranger Badge. natural wonders and
offer and It's easy to get a Junior Ranger
Badge. Compare it to a scavenger hunt where kids look for
flora and fauna and check it off as it's found. TIP ~ No special
time needs to be set aside as it can be accomplished while parents
enjoy the activities already scheduled for their park visit.
M&E say you can get one at the State Parks
or Glacier National Park. All you have to do is do some fun
activities like identifying plants and animals. Then you can receive
your badge. It is a fun thing for children of all ages. At
Pine, remember to check the park's yearly plan for other activities to
make sure that you can participate when you are there.
Idea no. 4 - Ice skating:
Kids take to it
almost immediately and once learned, it's like riding a bike. But,
you're never too old to learn to ice skate. Gliding
around on a frozen pond is a great way to chase away winter
doldrums. Get some really good deals on ice skates
by waiting to purchase a little later in the season. There will
still be plenty of time to skate and the money you've saved can be
put to lessons or admission to a rink. TIP ~ For the self
starter, Expert-Village website offers free skating lesson videos online. If
you don't object to hand me down shoes, used ice skates may be
another affordable option. Let's face it, when you rent
skates, a lot of other people have worn them already. If your
goal is more than just entertainment, of course a quality pair of
skates is essential. There are risks to ice skating as in any other
sport, so take it easy at first and consider wearing a helmet.
It's fun, and also easy to learn
says M. You can go fast, but try not to fall! She says that she likes ice
skating in a place that is not crowded. If you do skate in a crowded
place, go with traffic. It'll make your time nicer if you do. Here
are her tips
for ice skating:
Keep yourself on
the tops of your skates
Try to skate
slowly at first
Don't get too
Do not try to do
fancy stuff when you can't skate well
Use these tips, but have fun!
Read Kid's in the City to
find out what M&E think about big city life and their first ice
skating experience on a rink!
Idea no. 5 -
Berry picking: Making
memories and starting a family tradition is easy and rewarding
with berry picking. Depending on your location and climate, berries
and picking times vary. A quick search on the internet and you will
find what berries are available in your area and the best times to
pick. Pick enough berries to make some jam and you'll be glad you
July and August is prime
time in Northwest Montana. Huckleberries are similar in size
and appearance to blueberries with colors that range from reddish
purple to deep eggplant. Often confused with the edible service
berry, huckleberries are identified by their round leaves as opposed
to the serrated leaves of the service berry. Each summer, we take to the mountains in
search of these juicy little berries. No permit is needed for
picking the "hucks" in our National Forest if harvesting
less than 10 gallons. For harvesting more than 10 gallons of
huckleberries, a permit is required and cost $4 per day with a
five-day minimum. A season permit costs $80. TIP ~ Steep hillsides, along trails, and ski runs
where the bushes receive sun are the best spots for picking.
We enjoy picking on the slopes of Big Mountain Ski Resort. Huckleberries
are an important source of black bear and grizzly diets, so avoid
picking early morning and evening when bears are most likely to be
foraging. Some pickers prefer buckets, but we like gallon sized
Ziploc bags for collection. The berries are quite delicate but
freeze well. Simple wash and lay out in a single layer on a
cookie sheet to freeze before packaging. Hucks are highly prized,
yet not commercially grown due to the fact they grow best in higher
elevations. They are not widely sold in grocery stores but are
often sold at roadside stands. For economy, as well as fun,
pick them yourself as they are pricey and may cost up to $30.00 a
gallon if purchased. Use them in any recipe that calls for
M&E say that huckleberry picking
is the most fun if you pick the huckleberries instead of just taking
a mostly boring hike, saying the hucks aren't abundant enough! The
blue berries called huckleberries are very similar to blueberries in
taste and looks. You may find yourself climbing up a hillside to
cocciferous plants to pick and eat huckleberries. You may even
encounter a bear! Then you'll know the
time is right to utter those dreadful words: This ain't good...
I hope the bear wants to eat our
huckleberry pancakes more than it wants to eat you!
Idea no. 6 - Fishing:
It takes patience to be a good fisherman and boys and girls
of all ages
can practice this virtue while waiting for that prized fish.
The thrill of a fish tugging on the line of a fishing pole is an
exciting and memorable experience. Fishing poles don't have to be
expensive to catch fish. Check with your state fish and wildlife
agency for license requirements. Each state has its own regulations.
In Montana, kids aren't required to have a license until age 12.
Nothing taste as good as fresh food and a
dinner of freshly caught fish is wholesome and nutritious. It helps
stretch your food budget if you can catch a free meal here and
there. TIP ~
(5) plain and simple fishing tips.
what M&E say about fishing.
Fishing is fun, especially if you catch a fish.
In my experience
big fat worms usually work best. I've caught
rainbow trout and they taste pretty good.
Idea no. 7 - Vegetable Gardening:
Victory gardens are gaining popularity
once again. During World War l and World War ll, individuals were
encouraged to plant a home garden as part of the war effort.
Hence the term victory garden. It was thought that this would lessen
the demand on the food supply, plus be a morale booster considering
this as a contribution to the war effort. Also, it would be rewarding
to have grown your own fresh fruits and
Tomato gardeners everywhere will attest to the
satisfaction of growing one's own tomatoes. They are robust and
flavorful, not tasteless like the grocery store kind. Don't stop
at tomatoes, check with you local extension service to find out what
grows best in your area. If you've never tried vegetable gardening,
now is a good time to start. It's another way of being economical
while enjoying the health benefits of fresh from the garden produce.
TIP ~ Digging in the garden is good therapy for the mind and body.
It builds character in kids who help with the planting and a sense
of accomplishment upon harvest. Feel more independent of the mega
food suppliers by starting your victory garden today.
M & E say weed your garden
every week to keep the plants healthy. Why? When weeds come too
to your plants, they will want to stay alive. The weeds will take
the nutrients from your valued plant. An easy garden to grow may
contain: tomatoes, green onions, bell peppers, beans, carrots, and
lettuce. We buy our tomatoes and bell peppers from a nursery where
some people have already gotten the plants started growing. Plant
your vegetables in neat rows so you can walk around your garden and
weed easily. Planting from north to south is recommended so the
plants will get the most sunlight.
Idea no. 8 -
If you don't have a grove but are lucky enough to have the
opportunity to pick your own cherries, by all means do so.
Farmers will outfit you with the necessary harness and bucket to
pick right from their trees. They will instruct you in the proper
way to remove the cherry from the tree. Pick as much as you want.
The cherries are weighed and the price per lb is much cheaper than
the grocery store. Cherries freeze well, just be sure to
remove the pits before freezing.
"E" says that cherry
picking off of cherry trees is fun. "M" got tired of cherries because
she ate them so much, but "E" loves cherries. Try our yummy
cherry pie recipe while you are still here on our website.
TIP ~ If you don't have a pit removal tool, try using a paper clip to
remove those stubborn pits.
- Idea no.
9 - Sledding:
Winter just isn't complete without sledding down your favorite hill.
Sleds are available for purchase in all price ranges, from the
inexpensive big box store sled to the more expensive models found at
sporting goods stores. They will provide you and your family with
hours of fun as long as you don't leave the sledding strictly up to
the kids. Walking back up the hill will give you some
extra exercise and keep you fit. TIP ~ There may be lots of rolling around in the snow, so
make sure to wear waterproof clothing to stay warm and dry.
click for video
& E love sledding. We sled at the same place where we fish
or at another nearby park.
When a good amount of snow gets on the ground, we drive over to the
local sledding hill. We sit onto our sleds, and zoom down the
hill. Sometimes we hit holes, and fly up into the air.
Going back up is tough, especially when the hill is icy. Sledding is
a fun pastime in winter.