Now that temperatures are dropping out of the triple digits, this is a great time for nature enthusiasts and families who are looking to create more meaningful outdoor experiences.

Research has already proven the many benefits of time spent outdoors, particularly for children. For example, children who play outside and spend time in nature are more physically active, which helps prevent obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues. Other benefits include:

  • More advanced motor skills, such as agility, balance and coordination
  • Higher levels of vitamin D, which in turn strengthens bones and immunity
  • Stronger reasoning and observation skills
  • Greater likelihood of developing a lifelong love for nature and care to preserve it
    • Fewer incidences of illness
  • Significantly fewer symptoms of ADHD

As a result, parents may be looking for simple steps to keep their families active outside during the cooler months. Here are a few ideas suggested by YMCA Program Director Megan Gonzalez:

  • Create your own backyard outdoor space – Kids don’t need acres of woods to experience the benefits of nature. An outdoor craft table, sandbox, slackline, swing or even a treehouse can do the trick.
  • Get back to the garden – Kids love digging in the dirt, and fall gardening projects can become a family activity.
  • Prepare ahead of time – Have a dedicated “outdoor” backpack filled with all the things you need for your outdoor adventures (sunscreen, bug spray, hats, gloves, binoculars, magnifying glass). Keep it stocked and by the door ready to go when you are.


From backyard games to excursions at the 85-acre YMCA Camp Moody along Onion Creek, there are a range of options to help everyone stay in touch with their natural environment. The Camp Moody property was donated to the YMCA of Austin by George Yonge in 1999 with the desire to establish a camp for kids to explore the great outdoors. Features include dramatic limestone outcrops along with beautiful Bald Cypress trees lining the creek banks. Native flora and fauna create a living laboratory for exploration and discovery.

YMCA Camp Moody will host Fall Family Campouts in November and December. Activities take place on Saturdays and Sundays and range from nature walks, canoeing, and archery to bird-watching and s’mores by the campfire. More information is available at or by calling (512) 523-9640.

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