If you yearn to share outdoor IQ with your children or grandchildren, don’t be surprised if you have to do a little teaching to jumpstart the fun. After all, many kids these days haven’t had the idle time to perfect cabin living like we did back in the day. So get your feet wet and do a little show and tell. Share some of the secrets you honed over many years of playing outdoors. Here are 16 lessons you can teach to the younger generation about outdoor living. Let me know if you have more ideas to add to the list.
1. How to collect beach glass and treasures –
Walk along the waters edge scanning the pebbles.
Tip — I find it easiest to see wet beach glass than than dry glass. So walk where the beach is wet.
2. How to build a beach campfire
3. How to find the perfect roasting stick
4. Cook a meal over a camp fire. Roast marshmallows. Roast hot dogs.
Once you can build a campfire and find the perfect roasting stick, it’s time to cook over an open fire.
5. Sparklers — photos with, safety
6. Exploding Seed Pods
Is there anyone else reading this who spent hours of their childhood being amused by exploding seed pods? Maybe I’m overstating the excitement of it — or maybe I’m just easily amused. In all honesty, when I showed these to my kids they were not as obsessed as I was. I still can’t keep my hands off of these plants when I see them. How cool is it to touch a seed pod and have it explode? You can tell by the size of the seed pod just how close to exploding it is. The chubby ones are ready to burst, sometimes at the simplest touch. Skinnier pods might need a little squeeze. But for me, the excitement of not knowing just how fast that pod would explode was quite entertaining.
I have a confession to make. My siblings and I made up a name for these plants, and we got it wrong. The name we chose was “poppets.” So here I am, decades later learning the real name of this obsession of mine. They’re called Touch Me Not or Impatiens pallida or Jewelweed. In real life, I’ll just stick with the wrong name. It’s easier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjXgdZ_JzGo
7. Make A Beach Teepee
A beach teepee looks really cool. Because it’s not common to see a beach teepee, you won’t look like a beach novice. In addition to looking very cool, a beach tee pee has some practice uses. I use it to hang beach towels to dry. When your teepee has towels wrapped around it, it gives you a shaded place to sit, or take an afternoon nap. And, if you fall asleep in the shade, you won’t over bake in the sun. Score a few more points for coolness because a hot red sunburn is not cool.
The last time I made a beach teepee, something unusual happened. My beach neighbors interrupted me to ask me not to build a campfire near them. I don’t blame them for not wanting smoke blowing their way and they probably thought I was crazy to build a campfire in the middle of a hot day. But that supports my point about the uniqueness of a beach teepee. Most people have never seen one.
I can see why my neighbors thought I was building a campfire. Building a teepee is similar to building a campfire. Except when I build a teepee I build it on a much larger scale. I’ll bet my neighbors were really worried about that campfire — because I started with pieces of driftwood about 7 to 8 feet high. I go for the biggest pieces I can handle on my own. The first two sticks are the most important. I try to find two
8. God’s Eyes From Driftwood
9. Creek Adventure — This is where you can channel your inner Huckleberry Finn. Tell the kids you are going on a creek adventure as it is a more appropriate than a creek walk. (It’s all in the set-up.) Take a bucket with you because you’re going to do some crayfish hunting. A child who has never been in a creek or stream probably does not know that crayfish swim in reverse. So this is where you have to demonstrate the 3 simple steps for catching one: 1) slowly lift larger flat stones that make great hiding spaces for crayfish until you find one, 2) gently place a bucket a foot or so behind the crayfish, and 3) slowly spook the crayfish from the front (claw-side) and watch the magic happen as the crayfish darts right into your bucket. After your child admires the catch for a little while, it’s a good idea to demonstrate the lesson of “catch and release.” When you return in the future, Mr. Crayfish may be even bigger!
10. Catching minnows — If you have a shallow pool of creek water filled with minnows or other small fish, a child’s bucket and fishing net make for plenty of fun. I have no special technique for this.
11. Earthworms — You can buy worms for fishing bait. Our nearby North East Marina sells bait. But, finding your own is more fun and satisfying. To do this, you will need an outdoor water supply and a flashlight or two.
12. Fishing – There’s nothing like the excitement of a fish tugging on your line. Once it happens, YOU are hooked.
13. Painting Beach Stones
14. Skipping Stones
15. Building a castle with a moat – Digging in the sand was pure excitement for my sons when they were younger. Their goal was often to dig a hole all the way to China. They knew that China was on the other side of the earth. So naturally, if they dug a whole deep enough, they would reach China. I agree with their logic.
16. Message In A Bottle
Part of the intrigue of sending a message in a bottle is wondering who will find it. Where will they live? Will they write back? Since our beach is only 26 miles from Canada, could the bottle travel internationally to Canada? In that case, will the receiver speak English or French? I personally don’t want to know the real answers to these questions because I’m guessing the real answer is not as fun. Will the bottle will end up down the road in Pennsylvania? Maybe, it will travel the four miles to New York state. Only time will tell.
17. Nighttime catfish catching –
If you find yourself longing for a Lake Erie outdoor experience, campgrounds, cabin rentals, and cottages can be found…