In today’s world, we are all connected. It is hard to walk away, for adults and kids both, when you are constantly poked by friends, work and activities through emails, social media and YouTube. Without mandatory device-less
activities, we can all get sucked in to the challenges of our exceedingly connected world, which leaves us depleted but not truly understanding that we are often exhausted due to our constant connectivity.
I am an advocate for quality time under the canopy of the sky without devices. As a strong believer in the strength and energy that comes from nature, my family and I build it into our schedule as a priority to get outside as much and as often as possible year-round.
Outdoor activities are the heart of our family time, and these are my family of five’s favorite places to unplug from our devices and get connected with each other:
- Scissortail Park in Oklahoma City provides a vast area to roam and play for both humans and pets. The hours fly by as we compete in our favorite outside game of Spikeball, which is a cross between four square and volleyball. The local food trucks allow us to feed our ravished bodies after hours of outdoor play.
- If you don’t find us at Scissortail Park, we’re likely at Martin Park Nature Center walking the trails, taking a gander at the birds and running through the woods. Perhaps the greatest joy in this park is watching the turtles. Our family has nicknamed our favorite turtles, including “Big Earl,” and we watch to see who can spot “our” turtles first.
- When we don’t have time to venture away from home, you can find us at our neighborhood pond where we enjoy fishing and sitting on the bank. Memorable moments do not have to cost a pretty penny, nor do they have to include travel, but they do need to be generated and formulated by the leaders of a household. That’s you, parents!
- In Oklahoma, weather tends to dictate the activities available on any given day. On a wet, cold or rainy day we advocate heading indoors to prep for nicer days. To combine inside practice with outside adventure, we start at Threshold Rock Climbing Gym in northwest Oklahoma City. Threshold is a fantastic rock-climbing adventure that leaves us physically exhausted from climbing but also connected to our community when weather prohibits us from enjoying the outdoors. The climbing challenges are limitless as are the laughs that accompany the triumphs and failures of figuring it all out.
- Threshold provides the opportunity to practice the skills needed to take rock climbing outside in Lawton’s Wichita Mountains or at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas. My family spends many hours each spring and fall camping and playing in the outdoor climbing adventures that await us at Horseshoe. Beyond the seemingly endless climbing routes, there are multiple opportunities for action with the giant zip line, the oversized tree swing, frisbee golf, hiking, hanging out in hammocks and interacting with the ranch animals that roam the acres of land. We rise with the sun and find ourselves immersed in the outdoors while the hours of the day fly by, and we concluded with s’mores and a recap of our day around the campfire.
At the end of the day, month or year, I want to be able to look back and have memories created around time with my family. Time is never replaceable but it is certainly valuable. I want to look back and see what we have cherished as time together to be a reflection of what we value in our household. For us, that means prioritizing quality connection, away from our devices, in the great outdoors.
Editor’s note: Khari Manuel enjoys leading people physically, mentally and spiritually. As a cycle instructor at the YMCA he inspires droves of people at 5 a.m. He has spent 17 years leading in healthcare sales. Spiritually, he enjoys leading people to grow in uncomfortable situations as they travel to Africa and Haiti through 410 Bridge, a nonprofit organization. His most memorable and influential opportunities come from leading his family.