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Fresh Ways to Have Fun Outside with Family or Friends



By Chuck Fitzgerald

Are you looking for fresh ways to spend time with your friends and family? Outdoor activities getting a little boring, are they?

With your fast-paced life gaining speed all the time, it’s easy to stick to what’s familiar — but is that any way to live? Let’s take a few minutes and look at how easy it is to break out of the same-ole-routine and into the new with wholesome activities near home and out of doors. Read on to see why it’s tough to beat having fun with friends and family outdoors in the fresh air.

We’re not alone out there
One of the first things we notice as we step outdoors and into nature is that we are not alone. Life surrounds us. So the first thing to do is to slow down and have a look around.

While you’re looking, why not do some bird watching? It’s fun, easy to do and inexpensive. All you need are birds, and they are everywhere. Make a family game out of it. Who can find the first bird with the color blue on it? How many ducks are on the pond? Are they all the same kind? You get the idea.

But be careful: once you start bird watching you’ll find it difficult to stop. Before long you’ll have a good pair of birding binoculars and a field guide for your part of the country. Then you’ll be a bird watcher with birding fever. The best part of bird watching is spending time with others outdoors. Birding is a hobby you’ll love for the rest of your life.

Are you a techophile?
If you need a sport that’s a little more high tech, give geocaching a shot. Geocaching is the sport where you use your handheld GPS receiver to find caches hidden by others using their GPS receivers. This is something you can do by yourself, with friends or with your children.

Geocaching teaches outdoor navigation in a fun and interactive way while allowing you to explore your own neighborhood and beyond. You’ll learn new words and phrases such as cache coordinates, travel bugs, micro-caches, benchmarking and geoteaming. All you need is internet access and a GPS receiver. Some GPS receivers retail for many hundreds of dollars, but many models are available for around $100. Although the sport is active in over 200 countries, most geocachers enjoy playing the game in their own neighborhoods. It’s awesome!

If a GPS receiver isn’t in your budget right now, perhaps you might give letterboxing a try. Letterboxing is similar to geocaching in that you are searching for a hidden treasure, but in this case it is called a box, not a cache, and you use clues versus coordinates to locate the treasure. There are other components to the letterboxing game, such as rubber stamps and log books. Letterboxing is inexpensive, loads of fun and addictive.

The oldest outdoor hobby
What about the oldest of all outdoor hobbies? That’s right, stargazing. If you live in a large city and spend all of your time there, it’s easy to forget about the night sky because you can’t see it. But it’s still there and provides breath taking views that are impossible to communicate.

So grab a jacket, a pair of binoculars and a loved one and go somewhere nearby where you can have an unobstructed view of the night sky with as little light pollution as possible. With a pair of binoculars, you should be able to see man-made satellites, the moons of Jupiter and craters on our own Moon. Once you catch the stargazing fever, you’ll move up to a telescope where you can point it virtually anywhere in the night sky and be awestruck.

Tap into other enthusiasts
There is so much available to us outdoors. Try something new like bird watching, geocaching, letterboxing or stargazing. Each of these activities has a large online community ready to share its sport, its tips and its passion with you.

Not everyone has the skill or desire to climb Mount Everest, hike the Appalachian Trail or sail the world’s oceans. But there is something everyone can do near their own homes that will open the eyes and their minds to the beauty of nature. Take a few hours this week and spend it outdoors with someone you like. Use this information and you’ll get it right the first time. Get outdoors!

© Chuck Fitzgerald

Chuck Fitzgerald is the owner of Arizona-based BackCountry Toys http://www.BackCountryToys.com, an online specialty store with the “Best Gear Out There” and dedicated to helping outdoor enthusiasts to “Get It Right The First Time” with timely educational information. Please visit http://www.BackCountryToys.com to find great gear and to receive the facts and tips e-newsletter “FreshAir,” or call 1-800-316-9055.

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