11 things to do outdoors in winter
Embrace the elements with these fun activities to do whatever the weather
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.
So with lots of us spending more time outside this winter, it’s time to pull on our best all weather gear and embrace the great outdoors. Even on the greyest of days. So we asked our Girlguiding community – experts on all things outdoors – to share their favourite activities to do with family, friends or your unit (when possible) to keep spirits warm when out in the cold.
Use nature as your inspiration
1. Simple stick stars
Make simple stick stars ‘as an attractive alternative to standard Christmas crafts’ as suggested by parent Becky. Hang them in your home or gift them to family and friends.
2. Make your own mandala
Nadine, our friend at Rolls-Royce and an outdoor learning practitioner, suggests using materials found in the woods or forest to make art such as mandalas.
Make sure an adult has checked the outside area for any unsafe materials like broken glass before you start collecting natural materials. Remember that trees and bushes hold onto what they still need, so only use things you find on the ground.
Bond with nature
3. Take a forest bath
Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health and reduce stress. Head to your local park or woods and take time to look more closely at the nature on your doorstep. You could try the Japanese art of forest bathing, a simple relaxation exercise where you stay calm and quiet amongst the trees, taking notice of the nature around you while taking deep breaths. It can help both adults and children feel more relaxed.
4. Get outside
Rainbows can try the Nature interest badge to get them outside with the wind in their hair and the mud beneath their feet.
5. Go wild with bushcraft
Older girls can try their hand at bushcraft – which is all about living outside just using natural things to survive. With the Bushcraft interest badge for Rangers, you can learn to track animals, make your own rope and put your bushcraft skills to the test.
6. S'mores are more
S’mores are a Girlguiding favourite for cooking outside on an open fire – and one lots of our volunteers suggested (because they’re just so tasty)! If you can’t use a fire do as Linda of 2nd Penn and Tylers Green Guides suggests and make s’mores using tea lights instead. Best served with a round of campfire songs and stories. Always supervise children with an open fire. If you’re doing the activity with friends or your unit make sure you check for food allergies.
Stay safe: fire safety
Lighting a fire can be dangerous. Always treat a fire with respect, be aware of wind and never underestimate how quickly things can change.
- Never leave a fire unattended, and always wait until it's fully extinguished.
- Always have a bucket of water/sand/earth nearby to extinguish the fire.
- Never light a fire on peat, under a tree or near shrubs or bushes.
- Tie your hair back and make sure clothes and jewellery are tucked in.
7. Backwoods cooking
Guides can fire up their outdoor cooking skills with the Backwoods cooking interest badge to do at home.
See your neighbourhood with new eyes
8. Alphabet street
‘We go out and try to find all the letters of the alphabet’ says Lisa of 10th Barry Guides and Barry Rangers. ‘They could be found letters or letters that you find from shapes in architecture.’
9. Pretend you're a tourist
Become a tourist in your local area - if you were a visitor for the day what outdoor spot would you head to? What pictures would you take? What would you write in a postcard? Take it further with the Navigator interest badge for Guides. Navigate around and find out what's hiding just beyond your doorstep.
10. Try geocaching
Geocaching is a treasure hunt that uses coordinates to direct you to hidden containers called caches. It started with just one cache hidden in America. Now, more than 2.5 million caches are waiting to be found worldwide. Guides can try the Geocaching interest badge.
Get green fingers in your gloves
11. Put a spring in your step
There are still seeds and bulbs that can be planted in your garden, balcony or windowsill in winter. Some spring bulbs like tulips can be planted in December ready for spring blooms or you can plant sweet peas on a warm windowsill. Brownies can explore more with the Grow your own interest badge.