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Making a Memory

When thinking about giving a gift to someone where do you start? Do you think about their hobbies? Do they like a certain type of food? What could be their favorite movie? The purchasing of gifts is a $465 billion dollar business just for the Christmas holiday season. However, many gifts cost nothing!

Go outside!

Colorado Springs and the surrounding area has over 9000 acres of parks and 5000 acres of trails. Parks include the majestic Garden of the Gods, the waterfall in North Cheyenne Canon Park to the soccer fields and playgrounds at the over 130 neighborhood parks. Each of these gems offers something unique and an explored paradise.

Why go outside?
There are hundreds of researchers looking into the benefits of being outside. The Huffington Post states that “nature increases brain function. Taking in a bit of nature can help your brain in more than one way. For starters, logging outdoor hours may increase concentration skills. One study compared concentration between children with ADHD who played outside, versus those who played inside, after school and on weekends. Kids who spent time in green, outdoor spaces reported fewer symptoms of ADHD, even when the exact same activities were compared.  Taking a stroll can also increase creativity. Research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that walking increases creative production. Other studies show that you can ditch the caffeine and stick to a walk in the park. Some say that 20 minutes outside can wake you up just as much as one cup of coffee can. Another study says, “The outdoors may even help us age gracefully.”

Research published in the Journal of Aging Health shows that getting outside on a daily basis may help older people stay healthy and functioning longer. Participants in the study who spent time outdoors every day at age 70 showed fewer complaints of aching bones or sleep problems, among other health-related problems, at age 77 than those who did not head outside each day. In addition, outdoor activities that revolve around group-oriented exercises or hobbies have their own benefits for older people. Research shows that gardening can help dementia and stroke patients improve social skills and confidence, while even increasing mobility and dexterity.”

This is just the beginning of the list, there are countless of studies that support the idea that being outside is helpful to one mind, body and soul.

How to get ready!
Putting on a jacket, hat, sturdy shoes and mittens is all you need. Have a dog? Grab the leash, poop bag, and take Fido along.

If you are looking for a little more focus here is a scavenger hunt that can be done in any outdoor space:
Scavenger Hunt

  • 2 different kinds of trees
  • A tree den (hole in a tree where animals might live)
  • Something decomposing
  • 4 different signs of animal life
  • A tree that takes two people to put your arms around
  • A place you would like to live if you were an animal
  • Something that represents energy
  • Something that’s a foot long
  • Something living and non-living
  • Something yellow
  • Something red
  • Something you learned about in school
  • A seed
  • A place where an animal could find water
  • A shady spot
  • A piece of trash/something left by humans

In the end, the benefits of being outside are endless. You will get time with your children, spend little or no money at all (State and National Parks charge admission fees) and you will learn and grow together. The memory will be priceless.

Blog by : Beth Austin – Catamount Outdoor Schools Coordinator

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Catamount Institute
740 West Caramillo St.
Colo Spgs, CO 80907
Phone: (719) 471-0910
Fax: (719) 471-0910
Website: www.catamountinstitute.org
Email: info@catamountinstitute.org