Camping and the Summer Solstice

Participants in PEEC’s fall 2019 Weekend Horseback Outdoor Adventure program wave from inside their tent! (Photo by Beth Cortright)

This Saturday, June 20, 2020 is the summer solstice — the longest day of the year! This week on Take It Outside, learn about the science and traditions of the solstice. On Saturday, PEEC is also partnering with Los Alamos County for the Los Alamos County Campout.

Summer Nature Challenge:

Participate in our Summer Nature Challenge! Every week, participants who complete the challenge can earn a sticker. If you finish all nine weeks, you’ll earn a bonus sticker! Find our archive containing all of our past Take It Outside activities here.

Download the challenge sheet here to print out and complete at home. At the end of the challenge, you can either bring it to the nature center or mail it to us at 2600 Canyon Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544.

If you don’t have a printer or prefer to work online, you can tell us about your experiences in the Google Form below or email your stories and pictures to

Blog Post:

Astrophysicist and PEEC volunteer Rick Wallace introduces the science and traditions of the summer solstice in the following videos:

In his first video about the solstice, Rick Wallace explores the science behind the solstice and seasons.
In his second video, Rick looks at some of the traditions that happen around the world to celebrate the summer solstice.

Outdoor Challenges:

We’re posting three outdoor challenges today that you can enjoy throughout the week!

Tell us about your experiences with one, two, or all three of them! You can do this in the Google Form below, by writing or drawing about them on our summer challenge sheet, or by sending an email to


Challenge #1:

Students on our Weekend Horseback Outdoor Adventure program cook fajitas over the fire. You can do one of our County Campout activities this week to make an artificial campfire! (Photo by Beth Cortright)

Go camping! Many public recreation areas are currently closed for overnight use, but you can camp right at home, and it’ll still be a special experience. Set up a tent in your backyard, or even make a cozy campsite in your living room. Learn how to participate in the Los Alamos County Campout on Saturday, June 20 and pick up your goody bag here. If you’d like to join the crafty campfire at 7:30 PM, find the link to the Zoom event here. Participants can enjoy activities, crafts, and a story with the Los Alamos Public Libraries. If you can’t make it to pick up a goody bag, download the campout packet here.


Challenge #2:

You don’t need equipment to get outdoors! Spending time in nature can improve mental and physical health for adults and children, and result in reduced stress. So spend some time outside today!

You can build a fort or tiny fairy houses, or just sit in a favorite spot and focus on each of your senses in turn. Read more and see our detailed suggestions on this page. The five senses mindfulness activity was one of our favorite outdoor challenges from the first 10 weeks of Take It Outside.

Challenge #3:

During the solstice, the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. Try tracking one or both of the following:

  • The length of your shadow at midday. As the sun gets higher, your shadow gets shorter! Every day, go outside at the same time, stand in the same place, and put a mark where the top of your shadow’s head is. Do you notice a pattern?
  • The position of the sun at sunset. Did you know that the sun doesn’t always set exactly in the west? The longer the day, the more time the sun spends above the horizon, and the further to the northwest the sun sets. Every evening at sunset, note where the sun sets compared to the landscape to the west. You can also mark the position with a marker on a west-facing window. Make sure never to look directly at the sun! Let us know what you notice!


Want to Learn More?

Share Your Experience:

Tell us about your outdoor experiences! We’d love to see your photos, too. Please send them to or share them on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #peectakeitoutside. If you’d like this to count for the Summer Nature Challenge, be sure to include your name and email address.

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