FARMINGTON — Spending time with your children on outdoor adventures helps them get active and stay in touch with nature. And, luckily, the Four Corners is full of spots for families to enjoy the outdoors together.
Originally from Wisconsin, Alissa and Aaron Schulz and their 1-year-old son, Amos, spent their summer in Farmington, where Aaron Schulz interned at Christ the Rock Lutheran Church.
The family has gone hiking and exploring nearly every weekend this summer. The couple says they have always loved the outdoors, and they hope their son will follow suit. They've taken Amos with them on every adventure this summer as they've hiked dozens of miles around the area, strapping him to one of their backs in a baby carrier.
"He just loves being outside," Alissa Schulz said of her son. "He enjoys looking around, touching the leaves as we're walking and smelling the flowers and picking up sticks. It's a great way for him to acquire a love for the outdoors."
The Perimeter Trail in Ouray, Colo., near Cascade Falls was one of the family's favorite adventures this summer.
"It is an extra challenge carrying a baby while you are hiking," Aaron Shulz said. "But it's fun to have him on your back and talking to you, jabbering to you about what he sees."
The couple says they plan to share photos of their summer adventures with their son years down the road so that one day he can see the excursions they took while in the Southwest.
Regular exercise in nature can improve children's physical and mental health, according to the Let's Move! website, part of a campaign First Lady Michelle Obama launched in February 2010. Outdoor activity helps kids maintain a healthy weight, boosts their immunity and bone health and lowers stress.
Children need at least 60 minutes of active and vigorous play each day to stay healthy, according to the site, and one of the easiest ways to meet this goal is by playing outside.
In Farmington, you don't have to take your kids far to explore nature. There are beautiful trails to explore an hour or two away, but you can also check out the nature trails along the Animas River's edge.
The programs Riverside Nature Center offers bridge the gap between children and nature, said Nancy Koonce, hospitality staffer for the Farmington Museum system.
"There is a definite lack of being in contact with Mother Earth and nature," she said. "Children are so busy with technology that they forget there is a basic need to have that void filled between nature and our lives."
The Riverside Nature Center offers several programs throughout the year, including a preschool program called Picnic in the Park that runs through September.
The program is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and is open to children and their families. Bring your lunch and enjoy a picnic, story and walk through the park. Call 505-599-1422 for more information.