You’ve survived the first month of summer vacation! Now what? If you’re like me, you’re starting to run low on inexpensive ideas for getting the kids out and about. Don’t worry…the Texas Nature Challenge can help you fill your long summer days with adventures. This family-oriented, friendly competition has a simple goal: to get families and kids outdoors.
The Texas Nature Challenge provides a great opportunity to explore new venues for adventure and to rediscover some old favorites through nature-focused eyes. Families who want to be contenders can register their teams here and begin downloading challenges immediately. In order to compete, teams should keep a journal or notebook of their experiences. (The minimum requirement is to keep printouts of the challenges with notes.) Those who are really serious can even document their accomplishments on the official participant blog.
There are over 20 challenges in the Central Region covering a wide range of activities–from stargazing and hiking to crafting and fishing–in locations as close as your backyard and as far as Waco. As your team completes each challenge, you’ll earn digital badges that can be added to your team page.
Here’s a sampling of my family’s Texas Nature Challenge feats so far…
Scavenger Hunt at ANSC:
Mission: Rock Identification:
Splash! Into Nature:
Zilker Botanical Garden Challenge:
Get To Know a Tree:
Leaf Rainbow Print:
The Central Region’s closing ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, August 12th, from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the Austin Nature & Science Center. The closing event, which is FREE and open to the public, will feature activities sponsored by some Texas Nature Challenge participating sites, take-home craft projects, a display of team entries, door prizes, and light refreshments. Teams aren’t required to complete all the challenges in order to attend the closing ceremonies or to win awards, which will be given for a variety of accomplishments based on the submissions received. Any team that wants to submit a scrapbook, journal, photo, or kid’s art project should turn them in at the Austin Nature & Science Center no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 4. Electronic versions, or links to online scrapbooks, can be emailed to [email protected] by the entry date. Every team that submits an entry by August 4 will receive a goody bag at the closing event.
Keep in mind, there’s nothing saying you have to register or compete at all. You can just tackle the challenges at your leisure and enjoy a good excuse to get outside. Is your family road-tripping within the state this summer? Challenges from the other five regions would guarantee some fun outings to spice up your travels. My son says, “It’s like a game, a hike, and a challenge all in one. I like getting out of the house and seeing nature.” So get out of the house and see some nature, y’all.
Note: Although participation in the Texas Nature Challenge is free, admission fees are charged at some of the challenge sites.