Darn it, kids, go outside!

I’m constantly encouraging my two noisy boys to go outside, usually at the top of my voice. Exploring the outdoors makes kids happier, healthier and smarter. If you have a tough time prying your kids away from video games and TV, the next couple of weekends offer some enticement.

Columbia Springs’ twice-annual family field trip day is June 7. Gifford Pinchot National Forest is hosting free fishing events for kids and their families on June 7 and June 14, which is also National Get Outdoors Day. The Columbia Springs event, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 7 at 2208 S.E. Evergreen Highway, gives families a chance to hike and search for wetland critters. Lunch is available for purchase, and registration is requested.

The Mount ngod_final_logostackedSt. Helens Ranger District Kids Fishing Derby will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 7 at the Lake Merwin Day Use Park area in Ariel. Call 360-449-7800 for more information.

If you’re willing to drive a little father, two other derbies are planned near Morton and Trout Lake.

The Cowlitz Valley Ranger District Kids Fishing Derby is from 9 a.m. to noon June 7 at the Cowlitz Falls Day Use area on Lake Scanewa in Morton. Call 360-497-1100 for more information.

The Mount Adams Ranger District Kids Fishing Derby is from 9 a.m. to noon June 14 at the Guler-Mt. Adams County Park in Trout Lake. Call 509-395-3400 for more information.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will stock the fishing areas for these events. Kids can borrow fishing rods. Volunteers will show them how to fish and even clean whatever they catch.

If you want to celebrate National Get Outdoors Day closer to home, try out out climbing, archery, fishing and other activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 14 at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1115 E. Fifth Street in Vancouver. Smokey Bear, Ranger Rick or Woodsy Owl will be there.

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