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Be Out There – Safely!

2010 May 28

DontHi! I’m Anne Keisman and I work on the Be Out There campaign at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Sometimes I can’t believe my luck – every day I am tasked with coming up with new ways to inspire people – especially parents and children — to go outside and play. I’m excited to partner with Don’t Fry Day to spread the word about sun safety. At NWF, we love to promote the positive side of the sun. It helps green things grow, keeps animals warm, and lets us see the world around us.

And children love the sun too. From the moment they can wield a crayon, plump yellow suns show up in their drawings – right next to the fluffy white clouds!

But — like many things in nature — the sun can be dangerous if we don’t take precautions. If you know the facts about protecting your family, you won’t have to be anxious when your family heads out to the beach or the park.  Once you’re protected from UV rays, pledge to spend more time outside with your family. Kids today spend twice as much time indoors as their parents did, missing out on the simple pleasures and lasting mental and physical health benefits of daily outdoor time.

NWF recommends that parents give their kids a “Green Hour” every day — time for unstructured play and interaction with the natural world. Be Out There’s practical tools for families, schools and communities make being outdoors a fun, healthy and automatic part of everyday life.

Stumped for ideas for outdoor fun? Check out National Wildlife Federation’s Summer Guide and our Green Hour activities for great tips for your family.

And on June 26, camp under the stars – in your own backyard! Join the Great American Backyard Campout.

Have fun in the sun!

About the author: Anne Keisman is Senior Associate Editor for the Be Out There Campaign at the National Wildlife Federation. Follow her at

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. Linda permalink
    May 28, 2010

    The thought of encouraging parents to give their kids a “green hour” each day makes me feel sad for our children … a whole hour for unstructured outdoor play? What a rip-off! It seems like kids today have less free, unstructured, time than most adults I know … it’s a wonder they aren’t turning up with even more stress-related illnesses.

    Way back in the mists of time (1960s & 70s) my siblings and I had whole “green days”, especially in the summer. Even during the school year, once homework was done, we were free to go … in fact, it was actively encouraged … as in, “What are you doing in the house? It’s a beautiful day, go play outside!” We moved a lot when I was young, but I learned to explore nature no matter where I was, from the beaches of Key West to the woods of rural Ohio. From playgrounds to campgrounds, sunny beaches to ic-cold mountain streams, we got to explore the worlds of childhood with no timetable, no schedule, no rules, and no stress.

    Perhaps parents should consider giving their children some of the riches enjoyed by previous generations by offering them more than a single hour a day of “green time”.

  2. Wendy permalink
    May 29, 2010

    I too feel so blessed to have had parents that were avid gardeners and outdoor people …. and I don’t think the words ‘I’m bored’ ever entered my mind. We did not have a TV in the house until my mid teens and by then I was too pre-occupied to watch it much. The results from all this, being outside and enjoying the natural world led me on to eventually owning and operating a “landscape gardening” business, which I absolutely loved and did very well with …. I have recently had a major surgery and there has been nothing more healing for me than to sit outside, albeit bundled up, with a cup of coffee in hand and take in my day from a “green” perspective. I think one of the problems nowadays is the fact that today’s children are now second generation “high tech” and the idea of being outside except as a necessity is as foreign to them as a computer was to me until recently. Life in my experience is/has alwys been about balance, and heaven knows that today”s children HAVE to be involved with the great outdoors, for health and wealth of this precious little planet that supports us unconditionally and brings us life every moment of every day….

  3. Jari permalink
    May 30, 2010

    I hear you, Linda. I recently got chewed by my daughter’s pediatrician for not giving her enough structured playtime. The time she spends horsing around the yard and exploring my garden with other kids who wander over throughout the day is plenty of structure.

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    May 31, 2010

    It does seem that parents have gotten more self absorbed and alot less connected to their children now than at any other time in our history except for possibly the Great Depression. I can give another example. Our Library is doing a program now that they got a State Library grant for that brings low income parents and kids from toddler to 5 years old for structured play time. This program uses specially trained librarians and a team of phycologysts to get the kids and parents to play together at 7 different station in the library’s Community Room. The reason for this program is because the parents don’t know how to play with their children. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Linda permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Good for you, Jari! So long as playtime is fun and safe for everyone, that’s structure and rules enough. There will be time for schedules and deadlines and impossed order later on; for now, let her simply play and explore.

    Of course, in keeping with the major theme here, make sure to protect her (and your) skin from too much sun exposure; otherwise, let the “green hours” fill her days.

  6. A Mom permalink
    June 2, 2010

    Unfortunately, due to widely broadcast horror stories of child abductions and other tragedies, many parents are afraid to allow their children time outdoors to explore. Even in the rural area where I live, where I used to roam between my home and my grandmother’s home freely, there is too much traffic to allow my kids to be outside unsupervised…drivers distracted by phones and text can frequently be seen swerving all over the road at very fast speeds. Not being able to let our kids “play” is an awful side-effect of a “progressive” society.

  7. Alice permalink
    October 28, 2010

    I accept

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