Pack binoculars and keep a bird log. The Nature Company's Guide to Birding (Time-Life Books, $24.95) is a terrific resource book.
Forecast the Weather
Learn about forecasting in Cliff Jacobson's Camping Secrets (ICS Books, $7.95). Frogs croak and the smoke from your campfire hangs low when rain is on the way, but a heavy dew in early morning suggests 12 hours of good weather. Keep a journal of your own predictions, then record what actually happens.
Young kids get jazzed about excrement, which happens to be all over the trails. Paul Rezendes's Tracking and the Art of Seeing (Camden House Publishing, $19.95) provides all the information required to get out there and find your own evidence of animal life.
Keep a Flower Journal
Wildflowers die a nanosecond after being picked, so pack markers and a journal and sketch the flowers you find. Bring along a flower book to identify what you're drawing.
Sweep for Bugs
Bring a small net on a pole and a bug book. Gently brush through the grasses and wildflowers. Catalog in a journal all the bugs you find, then let them go. (See page 17 for nifty bug gear).
--Lisa Twyman Bessone