Have a picnic in a state park. Ride your bike around the neighborhood. Fish three different bodies of water. Go trail running. View the solar eclipse Aug. 21.
These are just a few of the activities listed on the WY Outside Challenge scorecard for 2017. With each activity, points are awarded and participants keep track of their own score, taking a photo of each completed challenge.
Ashley Rooney, youth and volunteer coordinator for Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources and coordinator for WY Outside, said this is the third year of the challenge. There were four families and six youth participants the first year.
In 2016, that number jumped up to 10 families and 24 youth. She looks forward to even more families and individuals participating this year.
“We have many of the same activities this year except there is no longer a separate motorized category as we had in 2016,” Rooney said. “Those activities are incorporated with other categories now.”
A new category this year is the Eclipse Bonus section.
The options in this category are to take a guided hike or bike ride at a state park during the eclipse, identify a constellation or even make a time capsule to dig up when the next solar eclipse happens April 8, 2024.
Rooney said the goal of the challenge is to get youth and families active outside and engaged in the outdoors.
“The activities are designed to challenge participants into trying something new and to further explore and experience nature with their families,” Rooney said. “We hope to foster positive outdoor memories with the families that participate in this program.”
One Laramie family that participated in 2016 and met the 200-point challenge is the Cortney family. This family of five included both parents, Kristin and Jason, and daughters Madison, age 6, and Hadley, age 3.
“The girls always had their faithful golden retriever, Daisy, beside them, too,” Kristin Cortney said. “That gave us a family of five.”
“The girls always enjoy our many camping trips through the summer,” Kristin Cortney said. “Our oldest daughter thoroughly enjoyed drawing and writing about what she saw and heard while our youngest daughter liked fishing and boating the best.”
One of the goals of the challenge is for participants to try new activities. The new activity for the Cortney family was the 1.2-mile excursion to Hidden Falls in Curt Gowdy State Park. Other activities they’ve enjoyed with the challenge in addition to camping include fishing, attending outdoor presentations, snowshoeing, making snow forts, going on picnics and going on small hikes.
“The WY Outside Challenge program is an engaging program to get people outside and realize the treasures we have here in Wyoming,” Kristin Cortney said. “It was not only fun for the young kids, but it was also enjoyable for us adults as well. It challenged us to try new activities and we made many fond memories along the way. We are extremely appreciative of the WY Outside Challenge program and the opportunity to participate and learn more about our state.”
A great way to kick off the challenge is to join WY Outside at the Summer Outdoor Slam on June 3 at Curt Gowdy State Park. The event is from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and is free to the public.
Activities at the Outdoor Slam include archery, kayaking, fishing, hiking and mountain biking. That is also Wyoming Free Fishing Day and a ceremony to celebrate National Trails Day and Great Outdoors Month will be at noon.
To participate in the 2017 challenge, download a scorecard from www.wyoutside.com or get one at any of the WY Outside-endorsed events, such as the Outdoor Slam. Use one scorecard per individual or family. Camp in a yurt, take a hike, go snowshoeing and even a climb a tree are all possible scorecard activities. There are 88 different activities listed. It’s not a race to see who can earn the most points but, instead, the goal is to earn at least 200 points by the end of the year. Along the way, take photographs and videos to record each challenge. All entries for the 2017 Challenge are due by Dec. 31.
Every participant obtaining 200 points will receive a certificate proclaiming them a WY Outside Challenge Master, signed by Gov. Matt Mead and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. All challenge winners will be entered in a drawing to receive additional outdoor-themed prizes.
Contact Ashley Rooney at 307-777-6560 or email@example.com for information on submissions and any additional questions about the challenge. Scorecards and more information are available at www.wyoutside.com.
Amber Travsky earned master’s degrees in wildlife biology and exercise physiology from the University of Wyoming. She runs her own environmental consulting company, as well as a martial arts school. She authored “Mountain Biking Wyoming” and “Mountain Biking Jackson Hole,” both published by Falcon Books. She is the tour director and founder of the Tour de Wyoming bicycle tour, which crosses the state every July.