We live in an age of incredible technology that allows us all to remain connected even when we are worlds apart, or just unable to join in or host group activities. And we all know research says the great outdoors is really important to your mental and physical health. Even just 15 minutes outside in your own yard or neighborhood is incredibly helpful. This is where virtual hikes and activities come into play. Never heard of it? Not sure what to do? Just looking for more ideas to encourage others to get outside? Then read on. This article is for you!
The Basics of Virtual Outdoor Activities
Instead of everyone coming together in-person to complete an activity or hike at the same time, families instead participate on their own time and when and where they feel comfortable doing so. Participants share photos and comments to keep the virtual connectedness flowing using social media or any other shared online platform. A virtual activity is something that could be done without ever leaving your immediate outdoor area. A virtual hike usually covers more distance but, again, is done when the participant is able and comfortable doing so.
The best part? Hosting these virtual adventures is easy. You select which activity or hike you want to host and simply post the details and any guidelines online. Hike it Baby members can use their Branch Facebook pages or the Hike it Baby calendar to host virtual events. Virtual hikes and activities can also be done with any other group, community, or your friends and family.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Virtual Activity Ideas
Outdoor Picture Bingo
This one is simple! Post a picture of your family doing something outside and ask others to share a photo in the comments of their family doing something outside. The catch? The photo they post must have one thing in common with the one before it. For example, if the photo before is a babywearing dad hiking next to a tree, the next picture could be any outdoor babywearing photo or any outdoor activity next to a tree.
This or That
Share two photos of outdoor areas (usually opposites) and ask people to comment on which they would rather be hiking or exploring.
March Madness (change the month to suit your needs)
Create a bracket system for local favorite trails. Have two trails go head to head and have members vote on which trail they like better. Continue through the bracket until you have a favorite trail narrowed down. Then encourage folks to go and hike it when they are able to!
Polls are a simple and effective way to get a Facebook group engaged. Questions to ask could be, name your favorite park, name your favorite toddler-friendly trail, name your favorite carrier only trail, name your favorite place to splash in the water, name your favorite weather-specific gear, and more. After the poll closes encourage families to go and try out the top voted activity (and post the pics!).
These are popular and often very humorous. Create a set of questions that caregivers can ask their kids and record what the kids say. You can make it outdoor specific by asking things like, “What is your favorite hike you have ever gone on? What is your favorite thing to do with Hike it Baby? What do you dislike the most about hiking? What is your favorite trail snack?” Who knows, maybe one kid’s answers will prompt another family to try something new!
Create a list of art activities with an outdoor theme for your Hike it Baby Branch or other groups to participate in. Ask everyone to take photos of their children’s finished pieces and delight in the creativity of little minds. Some ideas include birds, full moon, hiking with a friend, trees, flowers, a favorite beach, favorite outdoor memory, snow play, and so much more.
Create Your Ultimate Trail Snack Challenge
Encourage your Branch, group, or friends to come up with their ultimate trail snack by researching recipes, making, and then, of course, taste-testing them. Ask them to share photos and recipes.
Virtual Hike Ideas
Remember to ask families to share pictures of themselves completing the hike so you can all share in the adventure virtually together.
Local Scavenger Hunt
Create a collage with pictures of local landmarks and important places to visit. Then ask your Branch, group, or friends to find and take a selfie with the images from the collage in the background.
BINGO game or Seasonal Scavenger Hunt
Use a Hike it Baby BINGO or scavenger hunt graphic or create your own. It should include activities or items that can be found in your area. For example, find wildflowers, admire a spider web, find an acorn, build a sandcastle, skip rocks, climb a log/tree, build a snowman, dig for worms, etc. Ask participants to share photos of themselves doing the BINGO game or scavenger hunt too.
Here are some additional easy to host virtual hike ideas.
- Ride a bike or scooter
- Hike near a body of water
- Find cool shadows
- Go puddle jumping
- Find each color of the rainbow
- Hike with a stuffed animal or doll
- Wear a costume on a hike
- Find a wild animal or insect
- Hike your favorite local trail
- Visit your favorite playground
- Visit your favorite county park
- Draw a picture in the sand/dirt
- Find the prettiest flower
- Find the biggest rock you can carry
Have any other great ideas for virtual hikes or activities? Please share them in the comments.
Join a community of like-minded parents and caregivers with a shared mission of connecting families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. Learn about Hike it Baby donation-based membership options and join the fun today!
About Hike it Baby
Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America. Since its grassroots inception in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby is now a growing community of 270,000 families and 500 volunteer branch ambassadors hosting more than 1,600 hikes per month. More information, as well as daily hike schedules, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Photos courtesy of Amy Diebold and Kyla Philips.