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Sweetwater offers plenty of parks, trails, recreational amenities and activities to help kids connect with nature.

28 October . 2017

Sweetwater helps kids get their healthy daily dose of Vitamin N(ature)

In his book “Vitamin N,” bestselling author Richard Louv offers 500 ways to “enrich the health and happiness of your family and community, and combat nature-deficit disorder.” We’ve narrowed that down to the Top 10 ways that Sweetwater residents can increase their daily dose of Vitamin N – or Vitamin Nature – right in the community.

1. Louv recommends building a nature vocabulary on nature walks with toddlers, pointing out objects and landscape features. With 10 miles of trails in Sweetwater, including several rated as “easy,” parents can stop and encourage children to turn over rocks, dip their feet into a crystal-clear pool, touch a mossy grotto filled with maiden hair ferns, and touch the smooth trunk of an 800-year-old Texas Madrone tree.

2. Set a star date. “If your family is lucky enough to live where the stars are visible, stargaze in the evening or very early morning,” Louv writes.

3. Hold a holiday or family celebration outdoors. “Change it up this Thanksgiving! Invite family to come early for a pre-feast walk. Do it twice, and make it a new family tradition.” Residents and guests alike will find plenty to explore along Sweetwater’s trails. Residents can also reserve space for private events at the Sweetwater Club, and let the fun spill outdoors to the surrounding parks and open space.

4. Plant a family or friendship tree, or adopt one. The 800-year-old Texas Madrone tree, plus several more ancient Madrones growing in Sweetwater, show how long native plants can thrive here. Here are some great ideas for native trees that are loved by Sweetwater’s resident honeybees and migratory butterflies.

5. Start or join a Family Nature Club. Also known as FNCs, these are a great way to create a community of support for families. Sweetwater already has an active FNC, as part of its thriving partnership with Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CiNCA).

6. Small projects for small hands. Play experts believe that the most creative environments are those with the most loose parts, Louv writes. He recommends craft activities that reflect the infinite number of loose parts in nature, so kids can dissemble them and make new creations. Sweetwater hosts nature-inspired crafting activities for kids throughout the year, often in partnership with CiNCA.

7. Go backyard camping, set up a patio tent, or create an observation blind. Make good use of what you already have, Louv recommends. At Sweetwater, many homesites border the more than 700 acres of parks, trails and natural open space in the community, so a backyard campout can have an extra element of nature.

8. Transform your yard into a butterfly rest stop. Help restore butterfly migration routes by adding plants that provide nectar and food for butterflies and caterpillars. It’s good for the environment and a great learning experience for kids. Austin and Sweetwater are situated along a main migratory route for beautiful Monarch butterflies. Here’s how you can help them.

9. Explore nature nearby. Sweetwater residents are lucky to live within 30 minutes of many natural Hill Country treasures, including beautiful Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, which offers enriching nature programs for kids of all ages.

10. Get wet and wetter. Louv notes that although knowing how to swim is a basic life safety skill, a surprising number of children do not learn to swim. It’s also great exercise, and it opens up a new way for kids to enjoy and explore nature during some of the year’s hottest months. The kid-friendly pool at the Sweetwater Club is a fun way for young ones to get their feet wet, and the surrounding Hill Country is filled with cool natural swimming holes.

Ready for more nature? Learn about new homes in Sweetwater, at prices from the $300,000s to over $1 million.

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