The sun is high, the birds are chirping and the smell of freshly cut grass hangs beautifully on the warm, summer air. With the little ones off school and six whole weeks to fill, a family day at the lake sounds like the perfect way to get them out of the house and making some memories.
Drop all the chores, take off your watch, throw away your to-do list and get out there – down by the lake. From pond dipping to piling into a canoe, there’s so much to do. No need for a plan, summer has a way of springing (nice) surprises. Read on for some inspiration from our friends at The Simple Things.
As with all family days out, it pays to be prepared before you head to the lake. A picnic is a must for a full day out. Sausage rolls, ham and cheese sandwiches, and a treat for later will keep the little ones running around until the sun has set. Bring along a picnic blanket to give yourselves a base for the day, and don’t forget to pack some games to keep the little ones (and grown ups!) entertained. A velcro catch paddle and ball are lightweight and easy to bring along, but will keep the whole family amused for hours. And of course, swimsuits, arm bands and suncream are a must when heading to the lake for a day!
The water is at its warmest during the early evening, if the little ones can last that long. If not, a big dry towel to scoop them up and dry them off will do the trick. There are three options: tentative paddling, excited splashing or the full plunge.
If you brace yourself, you usually find that it’s actually not bad in there at all. In fact, “Come on in, the water’s lovely!” Daniel Start, author of Wild Swimming (Wild Things Publishing) knows exactly why swimming in lakes, rivers and the sea is good for us: “Cold-water dipping dilates the blood vessels and expels toxins from the body, at the same time releasing endorphins that elevate mood and libido.” What’s not to like?
Photography: Amanda Thomas
Pond-dipping is just as much fun for little kids as it is for big kids, so get ready to uncover some critters.
What to bring? An ID guide, jam jars, fishing nets and wellies. Don’t go too deep or you’ll get a lot of gunk. Mini-beasts you can expect to find include: pond skaters, water boatmen, great diving beetles and dragonfly nymphs. Remember to put the bugs back afterwards or they will turn on each other. The dragonfly nymph will probably win.
Photography: Amanda Thomas
Messing about on boats has to be one of the most fun ways to while away an afternoon.
Pile into a canoe and paddle to the other bank and treat yourself to lake’s eve view. The world looks different from down here. Canoe or kayak? In a canoe the paddler either kneels on the bottom of the boat or sits on a raised seat. In a kayak the paddler sits on a low seat with their legs extended in front. A canoe paddle has a blade on one end, while a kayak paddle has blades at both ends. There are endless adventures to be experienced in either option.
“Creativity and free-thinking flowers in children who are allowed to be close to natural things and creatures, rather than mere toys.“
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder