Sure, there's lots of indoor fun to be had after hours -- but don't be too quick to head inside just because the sun is going down. Doing your favorite sports or recreational activities by headlamp, or by the light of a full moon, turns the everyday into the adventurous. Of course, you'll also need to take a few basic precautions to be sure nobody gets lost in the dark.
Whatever your sport of choice, slap on a headlamp and try it out in the dark. Returning a tennis ball or chasing down a runner with a football becomes much more challenging -- and fun -- when it's done in the circle of light from a headlamp. If you're lucky, there may also be organized nighttime recreation in your town -- from footraces in the dark to late-night cycling.
Backcountry Fun by Night
The woods can be a little scary at night -- but they're also exciting, especially if you bring a buddy or two along with you. And night hiking isn't the only way to have fun outdoors: Visit your favorite ice skating rink by night, or lie out under the stars and count constellations. Some rock climbers even enjoy the challenge of scaling well-known cliffs with nothing but a headlamp for illumination. Of course, the outdoors is never completely in your control -- so make sure you have the appropriate skills to handle any challenges that may come your way in the dark.
Survive the Adventure
Limited visibility is the biggest hurdle to your after-dark fun. If you're out in the woods, carry a headlamp. Bring extra batteries and a back-up light to help you change the batteries -- that can be a friend's headlamp or the light from your mobile phone.
For nighttime sports and activities in the city, wear a high-visibility vest or jacket, especially if you're cycling or running near roads. Wearing a headlamp is also helpful in the city; not only does it show you where you're going, it also makes you more visible to passing vehicles and other pedestrians.
Late-night activities are a great way of teaching your kids not to be afraid of the dark -- but remember that children experience the world on a different scale. It's up to you to keep your kids close, and choose an activity that you feel confident and safe doing. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable your children will be.
Start small, by investigating what familiar plants look like in the light of your headlamp, or by playing a scavenger hunt scaled to your child's abilities: anything from "Can you find a leaf?" to "Can you find a small white rock?" or "Can you find a bird's feather?" Just sitting, watching and listening is a fun family activity too -- you might see or hear animals that aren't very active during the day.
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