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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the Military Spouse Advocacy Network website.

The days are longer, the sun is warmer, the sky is bluer, and “Oh, the memories, the ones that last forever!” Personally, my family lives for summer.  For some, summers are filled with vacations, long trips, and busy schedules. This isn’t the case for us. With a crazy army schedule, we are always leary to book a big vacation that may not be able to go on.  With no plans to hit up Disney World or the newest cruise how in the world are we going to keep our kids from going crazy this summer? Easy. The world’s biggest adventure is right outside our front door! Our summer bucket list is to get outside! Here is a sneak peek at how to keep your family active, engaged, and loving the outdoors without breaking the bank.

Blue Star Parks App

One of my favorite ways to find parks around me is the Blue Star Families Parks App.  The app is free to download, and shows all of the local and state parks in your area. When you arrive, you can “check in” and have it added to your list of places visited.  The app allows you to mark what activities you did while there, too. At the end of the summer, we go back in and see how many parks we visited! It’s a great way to set a goal to visit a new park to check off our bucket list. We have also used it to research all of the great places we want to go while visiting family in South Dakota!

Find Your State Parks!

A quick Google search will show you all the state parks and recreational areas near you.  It’s no secret that we are outdoorsy people! Finding a state park opens the doors for nature hikes, fishing, education, bike trails, camping, swimming, and much more.  We have made many memories visiting state parks at each of our duty stations. We get to learn about the area and experience the beauty each has to offer. From HaHa Tonka in Missouri to Custer State Park in South Dakota, we have spent hours hiking, fishing, biking and more! The photo opportunities and memories will last a lifetime.  So will the camping stories…

On Post Outdoor Centers

Many installations have an outdoor recreation center through MWR.  These locations are amazing opportunities to get outside and try something new. They offer many options exclusive to military families like canoe and kayak rentals, fishing license and gear purchases, paintball courses, float trips, ropes courses, maps of hiking areas on post, and information on local outdoor activities.  This is a great first stop to plan your summer outdoor activities. Some of the most beautiful places are right on post–you just have to get out and find them!

Keep It Simple

Enjoying your own outdoor space is an easy way to get outside and have some fun. Have a picnic.  Break out the sprinkler and pool! Grab some chalk and bubbles. Find bugs and flowers in the yard. Plant a garden or flower bed.. Play ball! Small outdoor activities have a big impact on our own happiness and keep us active and moving.  Outside is the best boredom beater!

Your summer bucket list doesn’t need to include something extravagant.  For us, the list is simple; make as many memories under the sun as possible. Now, go get outside!

The Military Spouse Advocacy Network’s (MSAN) mission is to create stronger military families through education, empowerment, and support. MilHousing Network is proud to work in partnership with MSAN to help military families PCS better. To learn how MSAN can support you visit  https://www.militaryspouseadvocacynetwork.org/

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