From Camp T Director Jill Teegardin

Feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, listening to the sound of a babbling brook, and touching the softness of a moss-covered log are all experiences you can encounter while taking a hike in one of Michigan’s city, county, state, or national parks. If you are lucky enough, you might be able to experience one of these in your own backyard!

Stepping into nature has been known to reduce anxiety and lower stress levels. Individuals and families are encouraged to engaged in outdoor activities in a safe manner right now, and taking a hike is the perfect way to release stress while enjoying the natural world. There are many activities to participate in while taking a family hike. We have provided a few ideas below.

Alphabet Hike

On an "alphabet hike," participants match their observations with a letter of the alphabet. At the start of a hike, for example, my family walked by a lilac bush that was in full bloom. We smelled the blossoms, and upon closer investigation, we were able to feel the texture of the shrub’s bark. The lilac bush allowed us to check off “A” for “aroma” and “B” for “bark.”

Letters can be checked off by looking for shapes of letters, smelling, touching, or hearing. Get creative with how you observe the letters: If you are planning a short hike, you can choose a shorter word such as your last name or the day of the week. There are a variety of ways to complete this activity, but the main idea is to have fun!

Family Tree

Another hiking idea is to choose a “family tree” that your family can visit time after time. This might be a tree in your backyard or one in a local park. Spend some time getting to know your tree:

  • What type of tree is it?
  • How tall is the tree?
  • How big around is the tree?
  • Feel the bark of the tree. Is it smooth or rough?
  • Does the tree have needles or leaves? 
  • Does your tree look healthy? Is it getting enough sunlight and water? 
  • Is there something you can do to help the tree grow stronger? Perhaps there is trash near the tree that can be disposed of properly, or maybe your tree could use a drink of water.

Think about having a picnic lunch with your tree or inviting a family friend to visit your tree. It might even be fun to name the tree! Spending time with your tree will help your family enjoy the outdoors and connect with each other.

Camp T Events

Missing Camp T? So are we! Check the MDE-LIO event section for more information regarding virtual summer programming offered through Camp T; information will be posted as soon as it is available.