If summer camp is not an affordable option for your single parent family, there are still lots of fun and safe outdoor activities that the kids can do to stay healthy and physically active this summer.I know it’s easy to just let your kids sit at home and play video games all day and night as a cheap option to keep them busy. But in the long term, it’s not a healthy activity choice. They are missing the opportunity to socially interact and engage and to get physically fit.Summer is a great time to stay fit and healthy so try exploring these low cost physical activities for you and your family. Take advantage of the beautiful, dry weather and get outside as much as you can.

#1 Hiking

Hiking trails are everywhere (well, almost everywhere). Some city parks may have easy hiking trails for you and the kids to explore. For more challenging ones with various levels of difficulty, try the trails outside of your city. Find a hiking app with details on the terrain, distance and grade so you and your kids can be prepared for a day’s journey. A hike for a good hour is typically sufficient to get your heart rate up and burn calories. But the harder the trail, the more calories you burn.

If summer camp is not an affordable option for your single parent family, there are still lots of fun and safe outdoor activities to stay healthy and physically active this summer.

#2 Go on a Bike Ride

Ride bikes around your neighbourhood or town. Find a destination that may be around 2 to 5 km from your home and see if you can reach your destination within a target time you set. Then on your next round, pedal faster (but safely) to get to your destination faster.

By setting a goal to beat your last time, you will stay challenged and get more fit. Find a safe and easy bike route to take with the kids or choose a street with a designated bike path. More and more cities are carving out bike routes to encourage this healthier mode of transportation.

#3 Clam digging

Clam digging is a great activity I used to do with my family when the beaches were at low tide. Grab a pail and shovel and if it is legal and safe to do so on your beaches, find clams squirting and quickly run and dig them out.

As a game, we would race to see who could get to the clams the quickest and shovel out from the sand. It’s harder than it sounds. The weight of the sand on your shovel gives you a good workout on your arms. But if you have a bad back, watch out. Instead of a large steel shovel, you can buy your kids a toy shovel and pail from a dollar store.

#4 Catch Fireflies

Whether you call them fireflies, lightning bugs, or something entirely different, they were a childhood fun activity years ago. Try to catch them as they buzz around quickly. Of course, catch and release is the most humane.

#5 Play Hide and Seek in the Dark

If you have some safe hiding places outside, you can have a fantastic game of hide and seek. Be sure to equip each player with a flashlight to keep them safe.

#6 Plant a Garden

Gardening is good physical exercise. Get the kids to help pull out weeds. Give them gloves, a hand shovel, a kneeling pad and a small rake. If your plan is to plant flowers, fruits or vegetables, make sure you have the right tools like pot, trellis, good soil and fertilizer to ensure your effort is successful.

Tomato plants are the hardiest and easiest to grow for kids. One of my first gardening projects as a kid was to grow tomatoes. It is very rewarding to see the tomatoes bloom. This activity offers not only physical activity, but also an educational opportunity for the kids to learn more about food security and urban gardening.

#7 Water Fun

Water guns, sprinklers, and the garden hose are great ways to cool off on hot days and it’s another great summer pasttime activity. If you have water available outside, just plug your sprinklers and play. The kids can play games to see who can avoid getting wet while jumping over the sprinkler. This keeps them moving yet cool during a hot summer day.

#8 Double Dutch Skipping

This was one of my favourite group activities. Double dutch skipping offers the best cardio workout for kids. It uses two skipping ropes and typically involves 3 – 4 people. Though it requires strong coordination and a sense of rhythm, it can be learned and is a lot of fun.  If coordination is not your child’s strong suit, then he or she can skip alone and try doing single or double time skipping to get the most exercise.

#9 Frisbee

A simple game played best when it’s not too windy. This game challenges your accuracy when shooting. You can buy a smaller, lightweight kids version of the frisbee so its easier to throw.

#10 Badminton

Play badminton outside. Like any racquet sport, all you need is a birdie and two rackets. To really enjoy this game, play when it is not windy. You can find badminton racket sets at a dollar store at an affordable price. There are different types of birdies. I find the plastic type a little more manageable and responsive than the feather type. The feather type usually comes with a heavier head and I personally find it more difficult to direct when hitting than the plastic ones.

Rackets come in various sizes and styles. You don’t need to spend too much money on a set. Typically you can find these at a dollar store, department stores like Walmart or sporting goods stores like Canadian Tire and Sport Check.

What to Keep in Mind

There’s lots of great things to do outdoors to stay healthy. These days, there may be new protocols in place so ensure you plan ahead and research to see if there are requirements for visiting some of these facilities.

Aside from the tools and sporting goods you need to bring, don’t forget to have the following things on hand:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats or umbrellas
  • Towels or picnic mats
  • Foldable chairs
  • Beverages (water and juice) to stay hydrated