Spokane Valley, Wash.

Between COVID-19 and cold weather, family-friendly outdoor activities can be more challenging than ever to pull off. To help make it easier, Dishman Hills Conservancy and the Spokesman-Review are sponsoring a family-friendly and adult-challenging winter scavenger hunt that involves finding an item out in nature that is a match for each letter of the alphabet.

“Going outside gives us exercise, enjoyment, and connection to the real world,” says Jeff Lambert, executive director of the Dishman Hills Conservancy (DHC). “Even if the weather is lousy, you can take the kids out for an hour to find the alphabetic matches using names of plants, animals, minerals, colors, shapes, activities, or places.”

Scavenger hunt participants need to keep track of what they see or do as they document their finds, for example, a for aspen, b for basalt, c for clouds, d for duck and so on. Using your imagination will help, says Lambert. Items should not be collected or disturbed but only observed in their natural setting, appreciated, and then documented with a photo.

For extra encouragement, DHC has created a Nature Explorer program, which is free to join by registering for the scavenger hunt online. Participants will receive helpful tips and fun ideas for how to explore and prizes for completing the A-to-Z Scavenger Hunt.

Participants have the whole month of January and until February 28 to complete the hunt anytime they choose. Visit the DHC events page at Dishmanhills.org/events for more details and instructions for submitting photos of the scavenger hunt items you document. Participants may receive a certificate and a patch and other prizes for adults are also in the works.

Two little girls walking together, holding hands, along a trail in Dishman Hills Natural Area.
The Vogt girls exploring the Flying L Trail in the Dishman Hills. // Photo courtesy: Becky and Zack Vogt.

Find more activity ideas for families and Out There Kids in our Outdoor Family archive.