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Opt Outside for a Digital Detox

5 Ideas for Outdoor Family Fun this Friday

Recently, my kids and I were hiking in the Marin Headlands, from the Point Bonita YMCA to the graffiti’d overlook atop the Point Bonita Lighthouse.  At the end, the narrow coastal path opens to a 270+ degree view of San Francisco.  Every time we see this, we stand there in awe.  And as someone who loves capturing moments, I took advantage of the great panoramic photo and asked the kids to smile.  My oldest balked:

“Mom, we're on a hike. Do you think you can put your phone away?”

Ouch. It’s hard to know when to document the moment and when to be in the moment, but you can count on your 12 year old to clarify this for you. My kids know I’m a stickler about technology having a time and a place, and they are more than happy to remind me when I’m not aligning with my own values.


Friday, November 25, 2016

This Friday is another opportunity for that digital detox: Opt Outside. After the food and family and friends—and instead of spending time indoors or online—consider joining the national movement to take time for personal wellness through connection to nature. We know that time outdoors has all kinds of health benefits like stronger bones, better eyesight, reduced risk of obesity and diabetes, longer attention span, increased creativity, and better relationship skills, to name a few—and the focus on “green time” instead of “screen time” might be just what we need.

We came up with a list of our favorite things to do when we Opt Outside—join us and post your photo (your one tech moment!) to celebrate with #OptOutside #DigitalDetox #HealthyLiving #ymcasf


Five Ways to #OptOutside with the Family This Friday



Sign the REI #OptOutside pledge to get outdoors and head to a state or national park or recreation area for the day.


Sometimes it’s hard to motivate, and my suggestion of a hike can be met with groans if the kiddos are sleepy or lazy.  But suggest a scavenger hunt using a Polaroid camera, or bring a notebook to document your findings (bonus points for a waterproof notebook like “Rite in the Rain” and sharpies)… and suddenly this hike sounds like loads of fun. We’ve also spiced up our hikes with camp songs and the Yelling Game (someone says go and the players can yell for as long as they can run- great silly fun and a little extra lung workout!). For the artistic, use the hike as inspiration to sketch or doodle along the way. The Presidio’s Andy Goldsworthy installations are a great way to enjoy large scale nature art while hiking.


Hike to a nearby labyrinth or make one! If you are in the Bay Area, our favorite is the Labyrinth at Land’s End in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Or find one near you! But you can also make your own anywhere out of rope, stones, sand or leaves (and if at a park or common space, just remember to leave the area as you found it when you’re done). Labyrinths have been used for hundreds of years for relaxation, meditation and for fun.


Feeling like some good old-fashioned casual outdoor fun? Invite some friends (and friends of friends!) to a nearby park for a play date with Kickball, Capture the Flag, Ultimate Frisbee, and Sardines. (Sardines is our current favorite- it’s the opposite of Hide and Seek. The “It” player hides while the group members (seekers) close their eyes and count to 30.  Each seeker player then tries to find “It” and quietly join him or her in the hiding spot. Pretty soon everyone is packed in like sardines, and the last player to find “It” becomes the new “It.” Playing this game in the old military bunkers at Fort Barry was a huge hit with my 8 year-old son and his friends- you can park at the Point Bonita YMCA and walk southwest to Battery Mendell or northeast past the Rodeo Beach overlook to Battery O’Rourke for some great Sardine-quality bunkers.


Challenge your family to experience a number of the activities on the San Francisco Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights this Friday, or complete the entire list throughout the weekend. Next on our list for achieving #1 (“exploring wild places”) is the Wave Organ along the Marina Boat Harbor in San Francisco.  The Bill of Rights is also a great way to appreciate the nearby nature in your own neighborhood even if you only have an hour or two.


Opt Outside

Like many, my family is making the commitment to get outside this Friday and I’ve promised the kids they’ll only have to suffer through one photo (or perhaps a few, depending upon their squirmy factor) to document the day. Have fun and be well outdoors!

#OptOutside #adventure #FindYourPark #marinheadlands #presidio #healthyliving #digitaldetox 


Lara Farrell Hitchcock writes about family life & parenting, outdoors & summer camp, and leadership & organizational culture.