Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lake Days and Indiana Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights

We live near (but not on) a small lake. I like to take the boys out swimming and on kayaks and canoes. The lake is relatively shallow, though it has a deep end where motor boats go. We've had fun so far this season, investigating leather back turtles, watching ducks, looking at pond skimmers, and paddling.

I often get questions on how I take my little ones out with me. Since they were little, I'd visit the lake and put one or two kids between my legs in their life jackets and head out. Some of them are getting older and bigger and can use the kid kayaks. But this last week, all four wanted to go out with me in the canoe. Of course, I had my fair share of comments about having my hands full. As a mom of four boys, I get that a lot. :-)

We checked out the channel, finding several turtles along the way. We watch them duck under the surface and follow them with our eyes as they resurface a few feet away. There is a natural section of a quarter of lake which is lovely! Their newest obsession is to climb out on a tree that goes over the water and jump in! They keep asking to go back and go back.

Have you heard of the Indiana Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights?

When we visit this spot, my kids get to experience several of these outdoor "rights":

1. Enjoy and explore outdoors in a safe environment. -- We take proper safety precautions, practice what to do, and have appropriate risks. In the last trip, one son fell off his kayak in deeper water. I'm glad he did. He was wearing his life jacket properly and we'd talked about what to do. I'm glad he could fall in while I was nearby to talk him through it and see how he reacted and would handle a potentially stressful situation in the water. He did okay and I was close if he needed help. I'll admit my youngest went head in, too, as he got curious about looking over the side of the boat. However, once again, he was wearing his flotation device and I easily pulled him right back in the boat. If they're never exposed to dangers they won't know what to do when the dangers really come. At this point, they know they are not to get into the water for swimming unless we're nearby. We keep an extra eye on the toddler as he is a little less predictable than his brothers.

2. Follow a trail and discover native plants, wildlife and history. -- We chose a water path and talked the animals we saw, the fish under the boat, and the plants along the shore.

6. Climb a tree. -- They had so much fun doing this! It added just the right amount of adventure they needed!

9. Splash and play in streams, lakes, and ponds. -- We went out and it was less than 80 degrees outside. It was perfect. The slower pace of a canoe or kayak allow us to splash each other and see the wildlife around us.

10. Enjoy nature using all the senses. -- What a tactile experience!

11. Ask questions, find answers and share nature with a friend. -- I often heard, "I wonder why . . . " We could speculate, observe, and share some of the best friends we have, our family!

There was a Catalpa tree nearby. It was down low by the canoe, so we were able to see the long seed pods and check out the heart shaped leaves.

There is a natural spring nearby and fresh water flows in several areas into the lake here. It's great to see those source points of water nearby and understand the water cycle better.

They climbed and jumped over and over and over again!

The older boys swam out to where it was a little deeper, working on their building skills and confidence.

We paddled back to the grandparents' house. What a beautiful day! 

The youngest was mesmerized just by watching a butterfly flutter by. We've talked about the light grass under the canoe. We found a snake right there the last time we were out and were able to observe it, tough it, and let it go on its merry way. One last shot! Someone was "fake" floating under the dock. They had me use the timer on my phone to see who could float the longest. Combining nature and technology once again! 

Just a few weeks ago, my husband's cub scout group came out. Three of the boys had never been in a boat before. I was glad we were able to share some of these same Outdoor Bill of Rights activities with them as they had a great time connecting with nature. How might you help a child (and yourself?) connect with nature through the Indiana Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights?

I took all these photos with my iPhone 5. Last year, I received a DandyCase Blue Waterproof Case for my birthday last year! It makes it easier to take pictures near the water, even if my oldest thought it looked a little dorky. It was easy to use and protected my phone. I'll have to do a review for it soon. 

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