1000 Hours Outside: Why We Accepted the Challenge

I came across this quote awhile back that really resonated with me.  “Fill your life with experiences, not things.  Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” 

Spending time outdoors is something my family has always enjoyed doing together.  And each time we’re outside, I feel as though we create another story or another memory.   

And on top of that, it’s free!  Fresh air, nature, sunshine; it doesn’t cost a thing.

Prior to this year, I had never heard of the 1000 hours outside challenge

Then a friend of mine mentioned it and shared some information with me.  She said her family was doing it this year and she thought my family would really enjoy it too.  

Making it a point to spend more time outdoors is something that’s important to us as a family.  Setting goals helps motivate you to accomplish the things that matter.  So we decided to accept the challenge of 1000 hours outside in 2021, from January 1st to December 31st.

We printed off our log sheet to track our hours and started our “Outdoor Memory Jar.”  Each time we come in from outside we mark the time we spent outside on our tracking sheet.  We also write down what we did, where we were, or any other memory from that time spent outdoors.  Then we fold it up and put it into the jar.

1000 Hours Outside: Why We Accepted the Challenge

On December 31st, when the challenge is over, we plan to empty the jar and read every outdoor adventure, memory, and story we did during the year together.

1000 hours certainly seems like a lot.  We broke it down to figure out approximately how many hours each day we would need to be outside in order to reach our goal.  

1000 hours/365 days in a year = approx. 2.75 hours a day 

Of course, spending around 3 hours a day outside in winter is obviously not always practical.  Some days, absolutely!  But not all of them.  So we’ve been doing what we can to log as many hours as possible this winter.  Even if it’s a quick 15 to 30-minute walk to “climb a snow mountain” or shovel the driveway, we count it.  Maybe it’s a quick winter scavenger hunt in the backyard or a science experiment like a “snow volcano”; we count it.  Maybe it’s a winter hiking adventure or time spent sledding; we count it.  My son has enjoyed taking his construction vehicles outside and building a snowy construction site and my daughter never hesitates to build a snowman or make a snow angel.  

1000 Hours Outside: Why We Accepted the Challenge

Any moments we spend outdoors are recorded.

As we work towards this goal we know that if we are short on our hours after the winter, we will make the most of the warm weather in order to make up for it.  We plan to count time spent eating outdoors, having campfires, camping, hiking, visiting parks, riding our bikes, doing sidewalk chalk, playing in the backyard, and taking walks. There are so many opportunities!  It actually gets me really excited thinking of all the things we can do, both new and old.

Will we meet the 1000 hour goal we have challenged ourselves to? 

Only time will tell.  But I know we are going to try our very best.

Have you or your family accepted this challenge?  If so, good luck!  If not, it’s not too late to start!


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Ashley is a ‘small town’ girl who moved to the ‘big city’ of Cedar Rapids after high school. A graduate of Coe College, Ashley is currently a kindergarten teacher and a true lover of yoga pants, cozy sweatshirts, chai tea lattes and cookie dough. Ashley and her husband, Mitch, first met each other back in middle school, dated when they were freshmen in high school, then reconnected one final time via Facebook back in 2006 shortly after Mitch returned from his first deployment. They've stood by their vows of ‘for better or worse,’ and as they approach their 10 year wedding anniversary, they aren’t afraid to admit that marriage isn’t easy. They welcomed their first child, Stella Grace Bass, in May of 2013 and their second child, Archer Mitchell Bass, in December of 2017!