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5 family-friendly ideas for outdoor summer fun

Sara Isaacson of Lawrence and her daughter, Sophia,

Sara Isaacson of Lawrence and her daughter, Sophia, 18 months, bicycle on Sara's bike at Bethpage State Park. (Sept. 23, 2008) Credit: Bill Davis

Now that the summer months are here, you'd think kids would spend more time outside. But according to a new Busch Gardens survey, most kids only spend two hours during the week in natural, unstructured activities such as playing tag, riding bikes and exploring nature.

In fact, 85 percent of moms worry that their children aren't spending enough time outdoors, yet 56 percent of moms never or rarely arrange outdoor play dates.

To help your kids spend more time outdoors, Stacy DeBroff, chief executive of, provided five kid-friendly summer fun ideas. We'll provide suggestions on five more topics throughout the summer, so be sure to check back next week. Here are her tips:

1. Set out to forge new experiences by exploring off-the-beaten-path campsites, bypassing your favorite beach in favor of one that's new to your family, or teaching everyone to kayak.

2. Kick your current outdoor experiences up a notch. Try a backpacking excursion or explore a longer bike trail if you typically enjoy brief neighborhood routes, suggested DeBroff.

3. Make a back-pocket list of nearby outdoor spots. Think botanical gardens to playgrounds and state parks. "Vow to spend some time outside each day this summer exploring a different venue," said DeBroff.

4. Plan a daylong hike at a local park or hiking trail and involve kids every step of the way, from finding trail maps to packing a great picnic lunch and hitting the trials.

5. If kids have ever tried a climbing wall at a birthday party, soar to new heights with a family rock-climbing day, she said.

Check back next week for five more family-friendly ideas for summer fun.

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