Blog1,000 Hours of Outdoor Play in Scottsdale
three kids playing in the sand on the beach during the day

1,000 Hours of Outdoor Play in Scottsdale

Jessie Fletcher, Writer & Stay-at-Home Mom of 3

It shouldn't come as a surprise every year, but somehow it still does. Summer break.
How do I keep my kids off their devices and more active!?

I found myself Googling and looking on Pinterest for any suggestions other parents with this struggle might have. And that's how I stumbled on the 1,000 Hours Outside challenge. As the 1,000 Hours Outside website states, "The entire purpose of 1,000 Hours Outside is to attempt to match nature time with screen time. If kids can consume media through screens 1,200 hours a year on average then the time is there and at least some of it can and should be shifted towards a more productive and healthy outcome!"

While this speaks to my mama heart to the core, it also makes me a little anxious that I didn't even know where to start. Breaking this down, it's a little less than three hours a day outside.

Where To Start This Summer

With 330 days of sunshine per year, we are pretty lucky to have the perfect weather to get outside while living in Scottsdale. The only challenge in the summer is the heat, but I'm here to tell you that it's not only possible but also enjoyable.

1. Backyard Fun

Some of our favorite go-to backyard activities are simple but all-time classics, such as:

  • (1-3 Hours) Water balloon fights: We love to get the super packs at Costco and fill 100 at a time, and you've got all the fun in your hands within a minute.
  • (30 minutes to 1 Hour) Watermelon eating contests: We bought two watermelons and gave each kid a half to eat. Pro tip: Do this on grass or a place you can easily hose down since things get messy!
  • (1-2 Hours) Glow stick bowling: This is such a fun nighttime activity and can get your kids outside even at night. Save 10 plastic water bottles and fill with water. Crack a glow stick and put in the water bottle. Use a soccer ball and have the kids take turns bowling!

2. Find Local Activities

There's only so much we can do at home before my kids are begging to go inside and get on technology. So we look forward to what the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess creates every year. It's always fun outdoor activities, specifically designed to get kids moving outdoors while still having fun. This year's Adventure Summer #AtthePrincess activities include:

  • (1-2 Hours) For adventurer's of all ages | Relic Dig: This 40 foot squared sandpit is fun for all three of my kids – aged 3 to 13 because they all love a little adventure for something mysterious. My 3-year-old spent all of her time here and was just as happy as her two older siblings.
  • (2 Hours) For adventurer's of all ages | Relic Rader's Laser Tag: While the younger kids won't know strategy, this activity was especially fun for my 10-year-old son. He took the challenge of defending The Lost Temple seriously and had his teammates hiding behind the Jeep, stone walls and trees.
  • (1-2 Hours) For the more daring adventurer | Chalice Rock Wall Climb: My 13-year-old is terrified of heights but wanted to do something that challenged that fear, so she faced this 26 foot wall with all of the oomph she could muster. And after four attempts, she reached the top, and that elation was greater than the feeling of beating a level of Minecraft.

3. Get Outdoors Even When Traveling

Air Travel: (2-3 Hours) This can be a challenging feat because airports are indoors. So I may fudge a little on this one, and give myself grace to just allow my kids to get active while at the airport. This may include being outside in the airport drop-off area or finding a play area inside the airport.

Road Trip: (2-3 Hours) Getting all five of us on an airplane is hard enough, let alone adding in the issues airlines are having right now. So we've been doing little road trips with our crew, and one of the things we've recently gotten into is geo-caching! Why has it taken me so long to jump onto this bandwagon!? It's fun for ALL of us, which is a HUGE win. We aren't at the level of leaving our own goodies in a location or even creating our own, but I'm sure we'll get there.

To Fall & Beyond

I'm already dreaming up our Fall and Winter plans - shout out to all of my super-mom planners!

Fall is when the desert comes alive! We spend a majority of our time outdoors because of how many things there are to do. Here are some the hopeful items from our bucket list:

  • (5-6 Hours) Hiking: We're working our way through this hiking list. Our favorite so far is Tom's Thumb, but pro tip for those with younger kiddos: if you choose to do this hike, either bring a backpack carrier and plan on carrying them or skip this hike altogether.
  • (2-3 Hours) Glorious Dining: Al fresco dining is a way of life at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess - with so many restaurant and patio options for my clan. My kid's favorite: Ironwood American Kitchen, where a hawk handler comes and shows off the magnificent creature. My favorite: Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, where we can overlook the beautiful views of the TPC Championship Golf Course.
  • (5-8 Hours) Goldfield Ghost Town: Yeehaw! We're putting on our boots and a cowboy hat and making our way to a fun western town! There is a little restaurant, museum and even a zip line. And you better bet that we'll try our hardest to geocache along the way.

Winter Break

(5-10 Hours - more days, more play!) Christmas at the Princess: With 600,000 Christmas lights, a train, ice skating, fire pits for making s'mores, photos with Santa and SO. MUCH. MORE, we are continuing our tradition of going to Christmas at the Princess. It's the easiest way to share the Christmas spirit with our immediate family and friends and family from out of town. We'll also be following these insider tips closely this year to maximize our fun!

Park Hopping: We have a few favorite parks and playgrounds we love to go to, but we like to mix it up when we can!
Some of our favorite parks are:

  • (4-6 Hours) McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Playground: This is a family favorite because you can ride a train! There is also a carousel as well as playground equipment.
  • (4-6 Hours) Mesa Riverview Park: A little bit further away, but worth the extra time it takes to get there! There are zip lines, towers to climb, splash pads, slides and it's even close to where the Cubs practice for Spring Training.
  • Some parks we have our eyes on:
  • (4-6 Hours) Chaparral Park: At the heart of the park, there is a 10-acre lake for boating and fishing! And we can bring our bikes, skateboards and rollerblades.
  • (4-6 Hours) McDowell Sonoran Preserve: This is a hiker's paradise! There are 115 miles of trails, so we'll never get bored of this area.

How It's Going

Nothing is more satisfying as a mom than getting more positive comments about the activities we hope will be a success to turn out to be just that: a success. While we've had our days of too much indoor TV time (I'm looking at you, Hunger Games marathon), the challenge to get outdoors everyday has been such a glowing part of our summer. If I don't bring up going outside, my kids do! They've complained less about even their daily chores – a feat any parent will gladly brag about – they've gotten even more creative with their indoor play and are ready for bed at a reasonable time.

And science backs this up! The National Recreation and Park Associate state that, "Greater access to green views and green environments yields better cognitive functioning; more proactive, more effective patterns of life functioning; more self-discipline and more impulse control; greater mental health overall; and greater resilience in response to stressful life events. Less access to nature is linked to exacerbated attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, more sadness and higher rates of clinical depression."

While we haven't been perfect at getting that outdoor time every day, just striving for that goal has helped our family go from immediately turning on the TV in the morning and watching it for far too long to enjoying an active morning outside. Starting our day off on the right foot helps set the stage for the rest of the day. School will be starting soon, and I can't wait to incorporate this level of outdoor time to our school year routine!