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Simple tips to inspire tech-savvy kids to experience a love of nature

Camp 1Parents remember childhood as a time when they ran around outside making up games with friends, but passing a love of the great outdoors on to your kids can be difficult to do when it seems like you are always busy.

According to the Camping & Education Foundation [www.campingedu.org], summer camps can help kids to unplug and jump-start their independence, self-worth, and social and other life skills. This spring, as kids prepare and anticipate summer camp, parents can mimic the camp experience at home by following these simple tips:

• Get children outside as much as possible. This may include walking to destinations, planning family hikes on nearby trails or taking advantage of the area’s parks.

• Point out the beauty of nature. By showing kids things such as weird plants or cool looking birds, parents engage kids and inspire them to learn more about the natural world.

• Read books on the great outdoors. An outdoor read-aloud or book club session offers more than just a change of scene, when reading a nature-inspired book it can provide the perfect living laboratory.

• Discover their interests. A child who likes Minecraft might be interested in learning more about architecture and building techniques, or farming.

• Make an appointment with Mother Nature. Families that block out time in their busy schedule are more likely to follow through on spending time outside. When hiking, take a camera or sketch pad, but not your phone.

• Plan a nature craft. Found objects, such as leaves, pinecones, twigs, nuts, shells and pebbles, make great crafts items.

• Create a scavenger hunt. Set parameters on where the assembled kids can go to find the nature items on their list. Then send them out to see who can complete their list first.

Although indoor kids might declare their love for tech and tech alone, a few well-planned days in the great outdoors just might have them singing a new tune just in time for summer camp.

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