CHICAGO (CBS) – Force your children to put down their iPads or Xbox controllers and go take a hike. Literally. That’s the message from the National Wildlife Federation which has organized an event Saturday called “Hike & Seek.” The highlight of the event is a one-to-two-mile hike through Bemis Woods in the Cook County Forest Preserve in Western Springs starting at Noon.
“The average school age kid in America spends almost eight full hours per day, every single day, indoors in front of some kind of electronic device,” says NWF Naturalist David Mizejewski. “The ‘Be Out There’ movement and programs like Hike & Seek are the National Wildlife Federation’s effort to make it easy for parents to get their kids outdoors.”
Mizejewski says Hike & Seek is designed to inspire a child’s sense of adventure by combining a nature hike and scavenger hunt. There will also be interactive “Stop & Study” nature stations with activities including nature crafts and live wildlife displays.
Chicago Herpetological Society will feature live reptiles native to Bemis Woods South including turtles and snakes. Northern Illinois Raptor Conservancy will also be on-site with some of their birds of prey including owls and hawks.
“We’re going to try to get as many people out in nature to get outside into nature and its part of our bigger campaign to get families re-connected with nature. And you don’t have to go off into the wilderness to go hiking. Literally right in our neighborhoods and our local parks there are opportunities to get outside, get a little bit of fresh air and a little bit of exercise with the family.”
According to Mizejewski, the goal of the NWF’s ‘Be Out There’ campaign is to get 10-million kids outside running and playing. During the last two decades, childhood activities have generally moved indoors and experts say it’s taking a toll on kids – physically and mentally. Obesity rates are up and creativity is declining.
Official “Hike & Seek” events are being held in 11 major U.S. Cities including suburban Chicago at Bemis Woods South, Grove 7, 11500 Ogden Avenue in Western Springs.
You can find more info here on the hike here.
Listen to Steve Grzanich’s complete interview with David Mizejewski here.
The “Hike & Seek” event will be held rain or shine. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.
For more information on the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There campaign, click here.