News Detail

Communications May 12, 2020

Rediscover Outdoor Adventure this Summer at Mercer Botanic Gardens!

By Jennifer Garrison, Mercer Botanic Gardens Education Director

“Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own.)” — Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

If you’ve ever felt stress, tension, and fatigue magically seem to fade away after stepping outside on a beautiful day, you’re not alone. Research suggests spending time outdoors comes with a variety of health benefits, especially for children. In particular, studies show children who spend more time outdoors have lower rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders.

Unfortunately, a loss of natural outdoor play spaces, increased time with electronic media, and even a desire to keep children safe may mean children and families are spending less time outdoors than ever before.

At Mercer Botanic Gardens, we’re dedicated to getting families outside to rediscover nature and the outdoors together. Let’s explore what outdoor activities can do for you and your family:

  • Gets You Moving. Playing outside, hiking, geocaching, gardening, biking, bird watching, and other outdoor activities keeps you fit and increases mental focus.
  • Promotes Imagination. Outdoor play allows children to freely use items in their surroundings to unlock their creativity.
  • Enhances the Senses. Exploring nature involves all the senses and activates the mind and memories. While exploring an outdoor space, families can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste (if safe to do so) what is in the environment.
  • Positive Patterns. Family outdoor adventures set up a lifetime of healthy, active, lifestyle choices. This improves a person’s psychological, social, and physical well-being.
  • Nature Appreciation. Reconnecting with nature builds an appreciation for wildlife and local plant species and forms good stewardship skills to last a lifetime.

If you’re ready to get outside and reap the benefits of nature with family and friends, join Mercer this summer for a variety of outdoor adventures. Families are invited to attend summer camps, family nights, and special Saturday events offered through the Outdoor Adventures programs. Check out the list of activities below.

Outdoor Adventures Summer Camps
Tuesdays, 9 a.m. – noon

Outdoor Adventures Summer Camp offers fun for children 6 to 11. This free camp focuses on a different nature theme each week. Registration is required!

  • Tree ID Mystery: June 9 and July 7
    “Leaf” the fun to us as we investigate trees from their roots to their tip-top branches.
  • Birds of a Feather: June 16 and July 14
    Adventure through a morning of feathered fun as we explore birds at the gardens.
  • Creature Feature: June 23 and July 21
    Investigate creatures that scamper, skitter, slither, and shuffle in the gardens.
  • Hike ‘N Hunt: June 30 and July 28
    Let’s go hunt for hidden treasures cached throughout the gardens during this geocaching adventure.

Outdoor Adventures Family Nights
Wednesdays, 4–6:30 p.m.

Mercer’s education department is extending the summer fun into the early evening hours during Outdoor Adventures Family Nights! Join Mercer on select Wednesday nights in June and July for these free drop-in events. No registration is required.

  • Micro-Mercer: June 17
    Using hand lenses and microscopes, explore the mysterious, tiny plant world at Mercer.
  • Geocaching: June 24
    Hike and explore the trails at the West Side Arboretum to find hidden geocaches. To allow for proper geocaching time, the last hunt begins at 6 p.m.
  • Critter Curiosities: July 15
    From insects and reptiles to birds and mammals, discover the animals that call Mercer home.
  • Geocaching: July 22
    Hike and explore the trails at the West Side Arboretum to find hidden geocaches. To allow for proper geocaching time, the last hunt begins at 6 p.m.

The fun continues with Hawk Talk! on Saturday, June 20, from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet Friends of Texas Wildlife Education Coordinator Cathie Coudert and her red-tailed hawk animal ambassador during this family-friendly event. Registration is required, and space is limited!

Learn about additional events on Mercer’s website and Facebook page. Visit and

Don’t miss these fun-filled opportunities to plug into the outdoors and start healthy habits. Just imagine what your family will discover and the new memories that will be made out in nature. See you in the gardens!