A lifetime of discovery starts this July

by Ture Nycum

Summer is here, which means it’s time to get out and discover the great places and things happening in the Grand Valley.  Since 1985, America has celebrated July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month, and we encourage everyone to get out and explore your local parks, open space areas, and recreation facilities.

Our youth today spend less time playing outside than in past generations.  In fact, youth today spend only 4-7 minutes per day (on average) in unstructured play.  This doesn’t include time our youth spend on a screen of some type (TV, Computer, phone).  Research shows that youth who play outside are less aggressive, less stressed and more creative.  So July is your opportunity get our youth outdoors to explore our local wonders.  If you need ideas of things to do this summer, I recommend you visit www.generationwild.com.  This is a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) sponsored program and has a list of ‘100 things to do before you’re 12.’  But for the kid inside each of us, the list applies to everyone.  Here’s a sampling of what’s on the list:

#1  Skip rocks – go to Snooks Bottom Open Space in Fruita.  There are lots of rocks and plenty of water to skip them on.

#4  Create a sidewalk mural – the sidewalk in your front yard or maybe a local trail (our parks crews won’t mind😊).

#12  Dance in the rain – we’ll get some soon!

#18  Explore a State Park – There are 6 State Parks in the Grand Valley from Highline State Park in Loma to the Tillman Bishop State Wildlife Area in Palisade.  Oh and don’t forget the Colorado National Monument and McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.

#31  Find a walking stick – and then go on a hike.  See # 18 for possible hiking locations.  There are also many trails within each community and of course the Colorado Riverfront Trail.

#36  Grow something from a seed – you don’t need a full-blown garden, just a pot, some dirt and a seed, any seed.  Don’t forget water.

#47  Pick up pennies from the deep end of the pool.  Each community has a pool:  the Fruita Community (Recreation) Center, Lincoln Park in Grand Junction and the Palisade Community Pool.

#58  Play capture the flag – get a group of friends together at a park and have at it…

#66  Brew Sun Tea – All you need is a jug of tap water and several tea bags – place in the sun.  It’s a pretty easy recipe.

#80  Run a mile – This can be done anywhere, just not in traffic.

#91  Watch the sunrise – the Grand Valley has awesome sunrises (and sunsets).

#92  Eat something you grew – See #36.  There is nothing better than a homegrown tomato.

#95  Press a flower in a book – Read a book first, find your favorite passage and press the flower in between those pages.

Other than GOCO’s sizable list of outdoor activities, we encourage you to participate in many of the activities and events that are scheduled through the three municipal parks and recreation agencies – Fruita, Grand Junction, and Palisade.  Each community has swim lesson programs, day camps, farmers markets, concerts in the park, playgrounds, outdoor basketball courts and so much more.  Don’t hesitate to contact your local parks and recreation agency to see what they have to offer this summer.  And, by all means, enjoy July – National Parks and Recreation Month!

For more information about activities in the Grand Valley, check out Healthy Mesa County’s Active Communities page.

Author’s note: Ture Nycum is the Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Fruita.  In his spare time, Ture’s kids occupy his and his wife’s time with the school and sports activities that they participate in.  But he does find some time to mountain bike, golf and generally enjoy life!

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