The purpose of the Noticing Nature series to spark interest and provide simple activities to be enjoyed by teens.
It may sound crazy, but do you know what I’ve been noticing in nature this month? Lizards, a few spiders, mosquitoes, and a couple of dandelions! That is typical in eastern North Carolina. The saying, “if you don’t like the weather in eastern NC, wait a day or two because it will change” is very true. By the time I finish this writing, it will seem much more like January than early spring.
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Another new thing I have been hearing is coyotes. I got an eerie feeling late one evening at their yips and howls. Perhaps it’s because I’m reading White Fang with the kids. Jack London’s descriptive writing about the hungry wolves definitely put me on edge every time I took the dog out at night!
Get ready to notice.
This month, rather than my list of things to notice, I want to turn the focus on getting ready for things to notice. While the weather may be too cold for most, January is a great time to plan out new places to go and what to bring. When those warm days appear here and there, you will be ready to go! This fall, we got busy and I allowed other obligations to get in the way of taking our short hikes as often as I’d like. My recent visit to the mountains reignited my love for wandering the woods. I took a couple of short walks on my street this week, and it just doesn’t compare to a walk in the woods or by the beach!
The benefits of hiking with teens & tweens
Hiking offers numerous physical and mental health benefits, is educational, and fun for all ages. Hiking is the perfect activity for teens and tweens because you don’t have to be an athlete, form a team, spend hours practicing for it, and it’s free! Plus, the whole family can be involved! Sports are not everyone’s thing, especially for teens who aren’t a part of some kind of team. Hiking is something can be enjoyed by most anyone no matter the skill level.
From what I’ve noticed over the years, the simple act of going outside is no longer alluring to teens or maybe their parents these days if it’s not tied to a sport. I’ve noticed the soccer field and local sports gym so full, that finding a place to park is difficult. Even with our small homeschool group, my kids (14 & 15) are always the oldest. Let’s change that!
My kids aren’t always leaping at the chance to go on a hike every single time. We always have a good time once there, but they’re still teenagers. It’s hard to compete with whatever is on the screen, or the comfort of the couch. You may have to take the initiative, and say, “Hey, we’re going on a short hike today, and you get to choose to enjoy yourself or not”. I haven’t had to do that, but there may come I time when I might. Just remember, if you’re looking for an activity that EVERYONE can participate in, hiking happens to be one of those things. How sad it would be to lose a generation who knows nothing about or can appreciate God’s beautiful creation!
Pack your bag, we’re going on a hike!
Good shoes and a bottle of water are really the only things you need to enjoy a leisurely walk through the woods. There are a few essentials I like to carry with me on short hikes, and by short hikes, I mean no more than half a day. Check out what’s in my bag, then scroll to the end for my free printable checklist!
- Hiking Shoes – I love my Keen shoes! I have had them for a few years now. They are comfortable, roomy, and run true to size.
- Shoulder Bag – For under $20, this bag is perfect! It has several compartments, is the perfect size, is partially waterproof. The padded strap can switch from left to right, and the crossbody design is more comfortable than a backpack.
- Water Bottle – I was reluctant to spend a lot of money on a bottle to put water in, but I didn’t. My husband did! It works great and I love it!
- First Aid Kit – Hopefully it is something you will never use. I like the contents and size of this one. Better to be prepared, right?
- Paracord Bracelet – This was so awesome, I’m glad they come in packs of two! So much more than a paracord bracelet (which the paracord itself has 44 uses), it is also a compass, fire starter, emergency knife, and a whistle! You really never know when you may need one of these items. The bracelets are both stylish and inexpensive!
- Nature Journal – I originally purchased this for the kids, but I like it for myself! Generously sized (but can still fit in my shoulder bag), it encourages one to make a simple sketch or include a photograph of what you see. I love the simplicity of the journal with only areas to fill out date, time, location, and observations. An added bonus is that it was written by a homeschool mom!
- Reusable Snack Bags – these are perfect for “leaving no trace behind”. Food safe, and can be washed in the washing machine or even the top rack of the dishwasher.
- Kind Bars – I like the mini size for a quick snack while on the trail.
- Bug Spray – I use a homemade spray from a local soapmaker. This one looked to have good reviews if you do not have a favorite.
- Sunscreen – I’m terrible at remembering this. I haven’t tried this one, but I really like the packaging and the short ingredient list.