In exploring the ways parents are encouraging their kids to get up out of the house, we met Romice François, a mother who knows that it won’t bode well for future generations if children are strangers to Mother Nature. “I don’t want my kids to become couch potatoes or become glued to the computer, so finding something positive to do with their time, like playing sports, is very important.”
This week, we take a deep breath of fresh air and see how close-knit families are enjoying the great outdoors—from extreme sports to everyday hikes and rides.
Chelsea Piers is often a first choice for her clan. Not only do they have impressive golf, swimming, skating, gymnastics and baseball facilities, but they also offer a range of adventure sports, including rock climbing.
“Anything that keeps the body moving is how we do it,” said Ms. François. “My husband is a baseball and golf fanatic, so my oldest, Deuce, started golf lessons.” And if its good enough for big brother, then Ryan and Camryn are sure to join.
There is also the Wetlands Stewardship Program, which helps introduce children to wetland ecology and other hands-on environmental experiences, and Randall’s Island Park Alliance’s Young Professionals Council is constantly hosting family events of all sorts year-round. No longer to be ignored, Randall’s Island engages everyone.
Photo Credit: Vincent Laforet, Courtesy of Randallsisland.org
JIB Lanes has created an entire schedule of family and junior bowling leagues and programming for fall. Catered to accommodate the school year, most of the opportunities are on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Generally, once a month, JIB offers free on-lane instruction, free bowling, prizes and food and beverage specials for its Kids Free Fun Day. The facility is a great way to introduce the sport of bowling, especially to kids who might be interested in competition.
One of the City's best-kept secrets is the Jamaica Bay Kayak Trail where there are numerous launch sites for paddlers of any ilk. Permits are required for a few of the launches such as Riis Landing and Rockaway Point, but Plumb Beach, Floyd Bennett Field Seaplane Ramp, Mill Basin, Canarsie Pier and the North Channel Bridge are open to all. If you don't have the equipment and/or experience, New York Kayak Company, the city's oldest operation of its kind, offers excellent family packages and rentals. With NYKC, families can boat around Red Hook, the Intrepid, Lady Liberty, the Morris Canal and other historic sites.
YMCAs across New York have teamed up with the non-profit America on the Move to encourage families to be more physically fit and learn about the benefits of an active lifestyle. In addition to the YMCA locations around the region, New York City Parks offers free aquatics programs, year-round, for all ages and levels, as well as competitive swim opportunities after school.
Don’t fret if you aren’t familiar with the city, Bike Chicago offers tours for out-of-towners. Two especially family-friendly options are the company’s Lincoln Park Adventure and The Friendly Neighborhoods Tour, which introduce you and your kids to all sorts of off-the-beaten-path landmarks.
Ms. François, for one, is an big fan of trying new things, especially with her family, saying that these experiences “help [her children] socially, and broaden their horizons.” Families who aren’t particularly rod-and-reel savvy can learn techniques from veteran guides, and hopefully even catch sight of the various species of the Gulf, such as Speckled Trout, Redfish, Tarpons, Bull Reds, Flounder and the occasional shark. There will be plenty of fish tales to go on about after this retreat.
With all the distractions of the city, it seems there’s never really time for much of anything—particularly not for enjoying those very distractions. You and your kids have your hands in this and that, lending your limited and often sparse attention to a cultural event here, or a social gathering there, but when was the last time you forgot about the ticking hands on your watch face and took joy in the simple act of being together?
For the seven weeks, we follow families that do.
Each day, with every meal and chore, these New Yorkers take a step back from it all. From neighborhood outings to museum visits, we connect with parents and their kids about how they keep their busy schedules in check and make time for what matters at the end of the day, when soccer season is over and to-do lists are crossed off: each other.
We also look to Houston, Miami, San Francisco and Chicago to see what they have to offer families who are searching for ways to be a part of each others’ everyday lives.
When it comes to your family, who doesn’t have a moment to spare?
Week One: From the Comfort of Your Front Yard
Week Two: Fashion, and Family: A Lifestyle
Week Three: Art and the City: A Family Affair
Week Five: Around the World in So Many Ways
Week Seven: The Tradition of Coming Together