Resources from OAK Members: Safely Engaging with Nature During COVID-19

As communities across the world work to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 with restrictions on daily life, it’s more obvious than ever that access to the outdoors, especially close-to-home outdoor recreation, is a necessity, not a nicety. Maintaining your relationship with the outdoors is undeniably difficult right now, but OAK members, supporters and partners are providing great resources for safely engaging with nature and staying active!

This list is being updated as OAK members provide resources (last update: May 28, 2020).

NOTE: Always follow CDC recommendations for protecting yourself and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Please also see the CDC guidance for managing and enjoying park and recreation facilities and for running youth programs and camps.

  • American Camp Association (ACA): ACA has a number of resources, including a summer camp operations guide for implementing CDC guidance developed with YMCA of the USA.
  • American Heart Association (AHA): AHA’s resource page includes a COVID-19 live chat and customer service phone line, information for heart patients, free healthy recipes, methods for managing stress, and physical activity guides.
  • American Hiking Society (AHS): An FAQ on hiking responsibly. Also check out their National Trails Day (Saturday, June 6th) toolkit, which includes ways to safely participate and advocate. 
  • Appalachian Mountain Club: 10 backyard nature activities for kids.
  • American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA): ALSA memberships are now free for students! ASLA offers a free activity book for kids. Plus, craft time! Learn how to build a mini-green roof on a shoebox.
  • Avid4Adventure: Offering online camp (mornings or afternoons) at an affordable price. See this blog post of resources for parents self-isolating with their kids.
  • Blue Star Families: A list of virtual resources, especially for military families, members and non-members alike. 
  • Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA): BGCA has a blog post on how to to talk to kids about the virus and another on emotional wellness resources. 
  • Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC): Unfortunately, CCFC had to postpone their annual Screen-Free week, but they recently launched their Screen-Free Saturdays initiative, which provides a weekly break from news alerts and social media in favor of connection and reflection. Also see their guide for healthy tech use during quarantine. 
  • Children & Nature Network (C&NN): FindingNature.org, a virtual gathering place and a platform for sharing and connecting with your peers as it relates to the natural world during COVID-19.
  • Girl Scouts of the USA: Girl Scouts at Home supports learning, doing and growing during the pandemic, and activities can be sorted by grade level or topic.Check out their great blog posts on how to talk to kids about the virus and how to help kids cope with disappointment during the crisis. You can also buy cookies online to support GS, or donate cookies to first responders. 
  • GirlTrek: Check out their 10-Point Plan for Self-Care during COVID. I also love Harriet’s Handbook, a step-by-step guide with 1000 walks and ideas to save your own life and the lives of the women you love, is available for free download.
  • Green Latinos: Join one or more of their Digital Encuentros, providing opportunities to connect with old friends and make new ones from within the GreenLatinos network during social distancing. See the schedule for May and June here. 
  • Latino Outdoors: Their #StayHome page offers regularly-updated resources, including stigma-breaking conversations from Latinx students on mental health and “Sopa for the Soul” from their Yo Cuento blog series. 
  • National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF): NEEF has a toolkitof STEM education resources. 
  • National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA): Recommendations for safely reopening national parks. Create your own park time capsule, and check out their list of 10 great books on national parks to read while staying indoors.
  • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA):  Guidance for park users and park professionals for slowing the spread and safely reopening. Here’s a direct link to their great infographic on physically distancing in public parks and trails. 
  • National Wildlife Federation (NWF): See their Stuck at Home guide, which aims to keep families entertained and engaged with the natural world, including free access to digital issues of Ranger Rick for the next few months. They also shared a guide to enjoying nature and gardening at home. 
  • NatureBridge: NatureBridge’s Outside Still Open guide lists activities and resources using their effective model of teaching environmental science education with decades of proven outcomes.  
  • North American Association of Environmental Educators (NAAEE): Together: Resources for teachers and parents designed to keep learners of all ages interested and engaged during the crisis. 
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): A roundup of NOAA’s most popular educational resources to help you learn about the ocean and atmosphere. 
  • National Park Trust (NPT): They’ve also launched a Grab and Go series of at-home activities and distance learning opportunities that bring parks to kids. 
  • Outdoor Afro: One of their volunteers curated this great Spotify playlist, titled “Nature is Never Closed.”
  • Tinkergarten: Tinkergarten At Home, bringing Tinkergarten’s proven method of learning directly to parents. Each week, we’re providing parents with DIY activities that are simple, wildly fun for kids and designed for learning for at any age. 
  • REI: Tips for how to #RecreateResponsibly. 
  • Scholastic: Scholastic’s Learn at Home curriculum provides 20 days’ worth of active learning journeys designed to reinforce and sustain educational opportunities for those students who are unable to attend school.
  • Seed Your Future: Seed Your Future offers fun ways to engage with plants, including starting a garden or compost pile, making plant-based soap, and their BLOOM! plant-focused online learning module, developed by Scholastic. 
  • Sierra Club: Check out their Staying Indoors, Thinking Outdoors blog posts, and this blog post from OAK Co-Chair Jackie Ostfeld on closing national parks to protect them. Plus, tips from Sierra Club’s Climate Parents Team on keeping kids curious and engaged. Also, check out Sierra Club’s nature Zoom backgrounds. 
  • The Corps Network (TCN): TCN offers resources for members and non-members on responding to COVID, including a photo/video diary of how corps are responding, virtual town halls, and more. 
  • The Trust for Public Land (TPL): A special report on parks and the pandemic. Also, studies show that even looking at pictures of nature has mental health benefits, TPL is providing free background images for video calls for the Zoom and Ring Central platforms.
  • Wilderness InquirySee their suite of online learning resources to take you on adventures into outdoor history and culture, environmental science and natural resources, and more. New activities will be released each week.
  • YMCA of the USA:  The YMCA worked with the American Camp Association to develop this summer camp operations guide for implementing CDC guidance. They also offer a number of resources (including free online classes) for families, individuals, and older adults with their Y at Home pages.