Here is some shocking news, According to the journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, only one quarter of kids play outside today as compared to nearly three quarters a generation ago. A study of 2,200 moms commissioned by internet security company AVG found that more young children know how to play a computer game than swim or ride a bike. That is a sad reality that needs to change. When I was growing up the great outdoors was my escape, not the computer. It is vital to the development of children that they learn to use their imagination and not be stimulated by technology 24hrs a day.

Clif Kids, the maker of organic snacks for active kids is taking a stand and encouraging kids to get outside and use their imagination. Clif Kids is hosting a Backyard Game of the Year contest which aims to encourage kids ages 6-12 to use their imagination and reconnect with outdoor playtime — right in their backyard. Kids and their parents can enter for a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship plus a Trek bicycle and Bell helmet.

Contest entries can be submitted through June 30, 2011 at Contest entries must allow at least two kids to play together and can utilize common household items such as balls, hula hoops, beanbags and, most importantly, kids’ imagination for hours of fun. A panel of play experts will select five finalists, and those kids will be flown with one parent each to New York City to compete in the CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year Playoffs in late August 2011. Each finalist will receive a Trek bicycle and a Bell helmet, the four runners-up will each win a $1,000 scholarship and the winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship. The winning game will be reproduced and donated to Children & Nature Network, a non-profit organization working to reconnect kids with nature.

I loved playing outside when I was young and I still enjoy it today and I want to make sure that my daughter does too. When it’s raining outside and the weather is warm my daughter and I run around outside and dance in the rain while singing… rain rain go away come back another day!! My daughter giggles, dances, and smiles all while enjoying Mother Nature and each others company. That is time spent together with my daughter that I will remember forever and I hope that she does too. Our family also likes to walk the trails behind our house looking at the different animal tracks, searching for mushrooms, checking out rocks, and just talking. It’s important that our kids can appreciate the great outdoors, enjoy the serenity that Mother Nature brings, all while using their imagination and brain power.

What was your favorite thing to do outside when you were a kid? Spring is here and the weather is breaking; I encourage all parents to dig down deep and pretend to be a kid again. Children learn by example, show them how fun it is to play outside and use their imagination.

Image Credit: Image: photostock /

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Haley is an avid fitness guru, mother, police officer and officer of the court. Haley and her family are working to go green with the help of her sister, Green and Clean Mom.