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Stay-cation Ideas The MER Stewardship Team has developed some ideas and suggestions.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, people are uneasy about taking vacations.

Shelter-in-place orders have undoubtedly left many of us stir-crazy and more in need of time away from our routines and day-to-day responsibilities than ever.

Happily, you can still score that vacation feeling without leaving home or traveling far.

In your own backyard...

Take on a Family DIY Project. The family that builds together, laughs together! Why not gather all hands on deck to create something everyone can later enjoy, such as a treehouse, a fire pit or a hanging swing? Check out one of the many online tutorials available, pick up the basic supplies at your local big-box store and spend the day getting crafty.

How does your Garden grow?

It doesn’t matter if you are experienced or not, gardening is a great way to get fresh air, eat healthy, reduce stress and spend time with those who are close to you during COVID-19. If you have always been putting off trying a garden, now is the time to try. Gardening with your children is also an awesome way to have fun while learning. There are so many skills your child can learn from growing seeds and understanding how plants grow to plants life’s causes and effect. Growing veggies not your thing? Plant some flowers to brighten up your yard or steps.

Gardening 101...

Is your yard not suitable for a garden or you live in an apartment? Consider starting a hydroponic garden. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil in a horizontal or vertical fashion, where mineral nutrients are provided through the water. There are many companies that sell these planting systems, or you can use some DIY methods.

Chef it Up

With families spending more time at home, those with little ones need plenty of simple, low- or no-mess activities to keep them busy and engaged. Done properly, cooking with kids can fill that need and teach important life skills. Spend some time cooking it up with the whole family, regardless of age! Time spent in the kitchen together can make great memories, build skills, and maybe start some new traditions!

Cooking during quarantine

Get Out – Close to Home

Exploring on two-wheels

Hit every park in your town…on a bike: Yes, you’ve been to most of these parks before, but linking them together turns familiar terrain into a new adventure. Bring a Frisbee for open fields, a kite for hills, hiking boots for trails, and some fishing gear for ponds. Revisiting a favorite trail or spot over and over can be really calming and centering.

Visit a Farm

Visit a local farm! It is the season for beautiful farm visits, sunflower fields, berry and apple picking, or just shopping for fresh fruit and veggies.

Search local farms or sunflower fields online for a beautiful local adventure.

One Fish, Two Fish

Learn how to fish: Start fishing and you’ll look at the rivers, streams, and lakes that surround your town with fresh eyes. Fishing guides can show you the ropes while minding our current health restrictions, or you can start at a local stocked pond where success is almost guaranteed. Then test your new skills in the wild by casting in a lake or river near your home.

Take a Hike!

Hiking in nature is not only good for our bodies, it’s good for our moods, our minds, and our relationships, too.

AllTrails App has the most extensive collection of detailed, hand-curated trail maps so you can hit the trail with confidence. Find your new favorite trail wherever you might be, quickly find the perfect hike, trail run by length, difficulty level, great views or dog friendly. You can turn your phone into a GPS tracker and follow your path, so you don’t get lost. Record your pace, distance, elevation, and max speed, and share your adventures with friends and family.

Make it fun for the family! The key to hike success is to keep the kids motivated and having fun – so why not combine the two? Create games that you and your children can play out on the trail. Have them look for signs of wildlife (scat, bird holes in trees, fur) or count wildflower species. Organize a scavenger hunt and have them find things are bumpy, smelly, small, big, living, wet…the list goes on! Leave no trace. Kids are future stewards of our public lands, so we might as well begin teaching them how to take care of those spectacular wild places at a young age. When out on a hike, make sure that all of your trash is collected.

Hiking Crafts & Activities

Nature Box – this is a great way to associate nature with color and to practice the idea of reusing items you would normally throw away. Take an old egg carton and paint each spot a different color. When you go for a hike, find natural souvenirs that match each color painted in the egg carton. See how many you can collect.

Walking sticks – Before a hike, find a walking stick that is appropriate to your height. Bring sticks home and paint them different colors. Get creative with different shapes, patterns, and words. When sticks are dry, take them on hikes with you over and over again!

Hiking Bingo – Set up a standard BINGO board filled with items you may see on a hike, such as a flower, bird, plant, tree, etc. First person to get BINGO gets to be leader on the hike and call out what items they see along the trail until the next person gets BINGO.

Peace Rocks

Peace Rocks... Spreading messages of Peace that ripple out around the world… one thought… one rock at a time.

Take this first step in changing your life and the lives of those you can touch through a simple act, a simple yet powerful message painted onto a little river rock that will change your world - and our world.

Water, water everywhere!

Find some water. Whether it is the ocean, a river, a pond, or a backyard sprinkler, get wet, listen to the waves, or just skip some rocks.

Give Back

Ashley Doph (MER). Eddie Maylon (WRI), and Amanda Kimball (WRI)

Look for new ways to volunteer in your community. While the way we interact might be different, there are always people and causes that need support. Brainstorm with your family on ideas of where you can make an impact. There are many resources online to inspire you!

Safe Travels

Set Up House in a Vacation Rental

This is a great time to find a place to call your home away from home. Heading to the fresh air of the mountains or built in water fun of the beach, having plenty of room to spread out and social distance, all hallmarks of a vacation home. Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway are user generated online marketplaces that offer private properties to rent. They run the gamut from yurts to beach houses, and they're great for families because you can search for everything from pools to cribs on the listings.

If you are traveling out of state, please consult the CDC guidelines regarding Covid-19 for your destination location.

Camp Under the Stars

Camping doesn't have to mean trekking cross-country to a remote area. There are likely many wonderful campgrounds and RV parks within a short driving distance to where you live. Camping provides the perfect opportunity to break away from normal routines.

KOA and can Campspot can provide information and locations. Whether your family members are camping pros or first-time tent pitchers.

Roll into Vacation in an RV

RVs are popular now. Why not try a RV road trip? You can get out and explore and bring a kitchen, bedroom, and all your stuff with you without ever having to unpack. Cruise America is a place to find your traveling home. And you'll need to find a place to park in advance; Outdoorsy is a good option.

Have an RV or Trailer?

Check out Harvest Hosts, RV Camping at 1545+ wineries, breweries, farms & attractions that invite RVers to stay for FREE!

Have fun. Be Safe.