By Zelda Felix-Mottley Michigan State University Extension With picnics we normally think of good food and fun. July is National Picnic Month – let’s add another dimension: Active family fun. There is much said about keeping food safe, summer parties and summer food safety. But let’s follow some of the ideas suggested by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and make picnic time an active family fun time. While preparing for the food component of the picnic, plan for the physically active side of the picnic. There is nothing more beneficial than getting the heart going and having fun at the same time. Here are a few suggestions from Michigan State University Extension to get you started: Plan for easy activities like a casual game of football, dodge ball or catch. Arrange a cherry pit-spit or watermelon seed-spitting contest. Create a waterslide. Start a friendly match of tug-of-war. Build a huge family sand castle or have a sand castle competition. Budget for a collection of portable games like croquet, bocce ball, beach volleyball, etc. Include activities for all the members at the picnic, from young to old. Bring plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Don’t forget sunscreen, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the increase of skin cancer amongst the young. Know the risk factors of skin cancer for yourself and young children. Remember good picnic memories can be created in your own backyard; you don’t have to go to a distant destination, a fancy place or one that costs money. All you need is a good imagination, the desire to have all the people you care about together and a plan that includes food and active fun. Make picnics this July and the months throughout the summer a perfect blend of good food, good company and good moves. Have a summer focused on improving your health with food and fitness.