If you and your guests are into fun in the sun and being active during the warm days of spring and summer, consider a special ‘picnic boot camp’ that helps get people on their feet rather than sitting around the entire day. This is the perfect healthy picnic: healthy foods and healthy activities!
This is the time of year when lots of outdoor events are being planned, and picnics are definitely included in that list. There are so many things to do at picnics (other than sitting around eating and socializing, that is), that the event can become more memorable just by being willing to get up and be active. Let’s take a look at some of the activities that are perfect for a picnic:
If you are at a park with a swing set and jungle gym, take advantage of the opportunity by creating a few challenges. Pit the grownups against the youngsters for extra giggles. Challenge Uncle to ten chin-ups and watch Junior plot to take over the lead. Mom has to do hand-over-hands all the way across the bar if she wants to beat Auntie’s record. Cousin and Sister are pushing as hard as they can to out swing each other, while the Toddlers do their very best to get cheers as they somersault in the grass.
You can organize this or let it be free form. The key is that everyone participate to whatever degree they are able to and are comfortable with. It’s great fun to watch the little ones try to out perform the adults. And, everyone gets a bit of exercise in the doing.
You usually don’t find kids sitting around at a picnic. They don’t have to be inspired to play games and run around during picnics, since they soon get bored with ‘grownup talk’ and long to stretch their legs or chase each other around. Kids also like to include their parents in playtime, increasing the sense of rivalry and competition, teaming up against the grownups, which is always fun.
You don’t even need much special equipment to make this kind of interaction happen. A simple game of catch, hide and seek, tag, or an outdoor scavenger hunt might be enough to get people on their feet. A game of capture the flag will definitely get everyone moving. Just tossing around a Frisbee will get you feeling like a kid again.
If there’s a nice breeze in the air, a few kites could provide hours of fun for you and your kids. Skipping rope and hopscotch are simple games that young children enjoy, and older people will find themselves giggling as it brings back memories.
Choose up sides at your picnic featuring your favorite teams and players. If you’re lucky enough to have room for a baseball diamond, or you have a couple basketball hoops, a volleyball, or even soccer goals, have each guest bring a jersey or t-shirt with their favorite player’s numbers written on it, and divide up the teams.
Other simple games to consider that are fun for all ages are Badminton, Bocce, Croquet, and Horseshoes. Oftentimes, public parks already have one or more of these games set up for you.
Are you on a lake with a few rowboats? Get a crew together and have a race. You’ll need to schedule timeouts to let everyone catch their breath, but that’s part of the fun. Plus, the spirit of competition will improve everyone’s appetite so the picnic food will taste all the better.
With this type of picnic boot camp in session, you’ll want to keep your choices for food and drinks as informal healthy, and uncomplicated as possible. Finger foods like fried chicken, sandwiches, appetizers, and a host of easy salads will likely be your best bet. Have lots of ready-to-eat fruit, like sliced watermelon, cut up cantaloupe, peeled oranges, and washed grapes on hand. Playing this hard works up both an appetite and a mighty thirst, and fruit quenches both.
Of course, a handful of grapes isn’t enough. As always, you’ll want to keep everyone hydrated with lots of water and a selection of healthy drinks. You don’t want your picnic guests to be completely drained of energy before they’ve finished enjoying their active day in the sun.
If visions of laying on a blanket all day, stuffing yourself with fried foods isn’t exactly your idea of a fun day in the sun for you and your family, perhaps a more active approach is what you need. Invite your guests to a day at your Picnic Boot Camp and get ready for a day of laughs, as well as some friendly competition!
Image: flickr user mscaprikell, licensed by Creative Commons