“Outdoor” things to do when outdoors isn’t cooperating

The kids and I had a very serious meeting this weekend, took stock of our outdoors activities in recent weeks, and we came to an important conclusion:

This winter is kind of a dud so far.

Yes, yes, lots of folks have snow, but we don’t. Not a touch of it on Mount Desert Island. Our ponds are also not reliably frozen yet, despite it being too cold to simply hand out outside.

So what have we been doing? Well, we have spent a lot of time trying to scrape together enough snow from the plow pile to throw snowballs. We’ve also stretched our imaginations a bit and tried to find new outdoor activities to do. I thought this list might also be helpful for snow days, dull days, or days when trying to pick axe through ice-covered snow is just not that interesting.

Here are a few of our ideas:

When the weather is okay for getting outdoors:

Photo walks Slushy snow isn’t particularly entertaining, but it’s still photogenic. So are trees, winterberry bushes, the blue winter sky and birds. Take your camera out and hunt some pictures.

Star-gazing If the clouds cooperate, this is a perfect time for skygazing. It’s still dark early enough to make this a great after-dinner activity. Download a constellation app or check out a kids’ book about the stars and then challenge yourself to find one or two a night. Orion is always my pick for easiest to find, but the Little Dipper is also pretty easy this time of year. You have to stay up mighty late for summertime astronomy, so take advantage of the darkness.

When the weather isn’t okay for going outdoors:

Climbing Find an indoor climbing wall near you and check when their kids’ night is. My eight-year-old, in particular, has developed a passion for climbing this winter and loves to work her way up the wall. There are lots of great options across the state, including UMaine’s $2 climbing night on Thursdays and Washington County Community College’s Outdoor Adventure Center.

kid climbing

She’s up, up, and away.

Swimming The pool at the local college, YMCA, or even a nearby hotel is great for getting some wiggles out while keeping those swimming skills sharp for summer. Most options will only cost you a few bucks. It’s even warm enough these days that you don’t have to worry about the dreaded hair-icicles afterward.

When the weather is so terrible you can’t even leave the house:

Nature documentaries Use screen time for good, not evil, by digging into animal life in the movies. Some hits in our house include Microcosmos and Monkey Kingdom, but any National Geographic special will do. My only warning is to be aware that almost any nature documentary will invariably include both animal reproduction and death, so consider the sensitivity of your audience.

There you are. A few ideas to get you outdoors until the lakes finally freeze and the snow finally hits. It will, right? It will hit?

Let’s all hope.

Share your favorite climbing and swimming posts–or other ideas–over at the new Scraped-Up Kid Facebook page. We’ll even take weather predictions, but only if they include snow.

Cherie Galyean

About Cherie Galyean

In a perfect world, Cherie Galyean would spend hours every day chasing her kids up hiking trails, pretending to garden, and baking things. Instead, she works full-time in the non-profit sector and fits those other things in-between loads of laundry in her free time. A Maine native with multiple hometowns, she currently lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, seven-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and the best shelter mutt in the world.