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Let’s Move Outside All Summer Long

Unplug is a public service campaign of the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council.

Unplug is a public service campaign of the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council.

Summer is fast approaching but packing up the kids to head outside could be daunting, especially for those whose experience with outdoor activities is limited.

But don’t worry. With a little help and some simple planning, the whole crew will want to unplug and find activities that will invigorate not just the body, but the mind. The opportunities to show our kids how to eat healthy and be active can stay with them for a life time. Young children and the young at heart will enjoy summer days filled with picnics and outdoor barbecues that create great memories.

Fill a cooler with ice or ice packs as you head outdoors.  Think about packing perishable foods in a different cooler away from beverages.  As kids go in and out of a cooler, the foods and drinks are exposed to warmer temperatures.  Perishable foods such as cheese and meats will stay colder longer if the cooler stays closed much of the day. Place beverages in another cooler that’s easy to access and include reusable bottles of water to quench everyone’s thirst.

Pack fruits and veggies that your kids will enjoy. Look for choices that are simple to eat like sliced watermelon, strawberries and cherry tomatoes.  Make fruit salads and serve with 100% whole wheat crackers for a quick snack.  Include apples, oranges and dried fruit that older kids can easily carry in a backpack.

Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov for nutrition information and advice, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov for nutrition information and advice, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Build a healthy meal in advance.  Think about options that don’t require cooking such as a veggie wrap or nut butter and banana sandwiches on your favorite bread.  Make a pasta salad at home with sliced carrots, onions, and broccoli and add canned tuna and low-fat dressing when you’re ready to serve.  Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov for more ideas.

Once outdoors, what do you do with the kids? Discover the Forest and the Spanish-language version Descubre el Bosque is a public service campaign of the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council that aims to inspire 8-12 year olds and their parents to reconnect with nature. It’s loaded with helpful ideas, including the aptly named “The Book of Stuff to Do Outside,” which you can download free. The book shows how to have a scavenger hunt, find directions using a compass and how to keep a nature journal.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council partnership includes the public service campaign Discover the Forest, which aims to encourage young people and their parents to discover the outdoors.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council partnership includes the public service campaign Discover the Forest, which aims to encourage young people and their parents to discover the outdoors.

Work with children to show them – and maybe even yourself – how to turn something negative into a learning experience. Mosquitos are a fact of life, and we don’t like them gnawing on us. But show kids that bats, largely misunderstood mammals that are night-flyers, eat more than 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in about an hour.

Another Forest Service program that helps children connect with nature is the Junior Forest Ranger. Children can complete the activities in the 18-page book to qualify for the Junior Forest Ranger pin and card. And when the summer is over, they can get ready to qualify for their Junior Snow Ranger designation.

Where ever you decide to go this summer – a county or state park or a national forest or grassland – be safe, eat well, stay hydrated and let’s move all summer long.

The Junior Forest Ranger program helps youth connect with the great outdoors. (U.S. Forest Service)

The Junior Forest Ranger program helps youth connect with the great outdoors. (U.S. Forest Service)

6 Responses to “Let’s Move Outside All Summer Long”

  1. Barbara says:

    In reviewing the Junior Forest Ranger booklet at
    http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5106520.pdf
    I’ve noticed there are two pages that have linking errors that leave these pages blank in the center:
    • Page 8 – My Smokey
    • Page 9 – Bear Poster

    Thank you for correcting these errors ASAP. I look forward using this booklet with my summer youth program.

  2. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    Thank you for your question, Barbara. Pages 8 and 9 are left intentionally blank. The instructions on page 7 explain the two blank pages which are there for children to draw their own poster. You may choose to print the entire PDF, or just print pages 8 and 9. We hope this helps. Kathryn Sosbe

  3. kana says:

    Where would we be able to find a copy of the poster “unplug”? I’d like to hang this by my door =) Thanks

  4. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    Hi Kana, thanks for your comment. The Unplug poster is one of several products developed in partnership with the Ad Council. Smokey Bear is an example of our work with the Ad Council. We also work together on DiscovertheForest.org and the various public service campaigns about getting outdoors, which includes the Unplug campaign. The Ad Council creates a variety of products that are used by media outlets, such as radio, television and newspapers. Find out if you are eligible to download the free campaign materials by using their online contact form at https://www.psacentral.org/contactus.

  5. Betsy Hayward says:

    I have a similar question as one I see above. As a middle school teacher I would cherish a set of ‘Unplug’ posters. I have seen several in our local mall. Some may have also been Discover the Forest. I am so concerned that youth are spending too much time ‘plugged in’ or on their cell phones. Is it possible to order a set of posters from the Forest Service or USDA? Thanks.

  6. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    Thanks for asking, Betsy. Please see my earlier post answering another reader’s question.

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