A GUIDE TO OUTDOOR ADVENTURING WITH KIDS
Interested in planning a fun outdoor adventure with your children? Getting outside is a great way to spend time playing, exploring in nature's playground. Adventuring with your kids can be both easy and enjoyable. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure a less stressful nature excursion.
First, when planning the trip, it is important to choose an adventure everyone will love. A trip to a local beach is a great way to make all types of explorers happy. At the beach you can actively investigate the wading pools for sea creatures, build sand sculptures, or just simply relax for some laid back fun. Taking a trip into the local mountains discover a new hiking trail to spot forest animals, bugs, and wildlife. Would you rather adventure into the desert wilderness? Take a short drive to a nearby local or national park or museum to spot and learn about the nature thriving in undesirable conditions. There is an adventure for everyone.
Start small. Adventuring with children is a big feat. Extra planning, packing, gathering and getting everyone on the same page takes much more time than expected. Choose a short, familiar 20 min hike, a close beach walk nearby, or even a neighborhood or local park adventure. Be consistent and work up to the longer hikes you hope to achieve in the future. They (and you) will build the stamina to walk longer and harder routes.
Being prepared is vital. Make sure to adventure. Pack plenty of water, way too many snacks, extra clothing, shoes, and towels just in case you happen to stumble into a muddy puddle, swimming hole, or the weather turns quickly. Bring a carrier, wrap, or backpack for the little ones who can't walk far. Don't forget to pack an extra special snack or sweet treat to entice them to keep going. Being overly prepared is always a good thing.
Be mentally prepared. Letting your children run free on an open path can be an emotional rollercoaster. It takes practice and the only way to practice is to let it happen. Let them run free in areas you feel comfortable but take the reins in areas you aren't quite ready to let them roam free. Start small. It will get easier over time. Prepare your children ahead of time for any large animals, drop offs, or slippery areas you may see along the trail. If the area has large animals, make sure they are aware that they need to stay close and make noise. Make it fun!
If your children are eager and willing to help, let them carry their own gear. Give them responsibilities along the way. Give them their own backpacks with a little snack, water, their nature journal, pencil, a magnifying glass and a special stuffy they want to share their adventure with.
Let your littles lead the way. Didn't see the ant cross your path or the grasshopper leap from leaf to leaf? They did! Let them ask questions, lead the discussion, draw pictures, and stay at that spot longer than expected. Prepare and allow the extra time for your children to explore, play and be curious. They will only benefit from the mini lessons that come with it. Not every moment has to be teachable, but they will be proud of and more eager to document the new knowledge they acquired through their curiosity.
Take your time & ditch the schedule. Curiosity is natural when exploring a new area or new activity (hiking, biking, beach exploring, etc.). Let them explore. Let them be curious. They will get tired, frustrated, and want to stop. Let them rest a few extra minutes. Drink the extra water. Eat ALL the snacks. Play a game of I Spy. Make it a race. Make it fun and exciting. When kids are having fun, they forget how steep, hot, or tiring the activity is.
Take in the fresh air! Inhaling fresh air clears your lungs and allows you to take deeper, longer breaths. Increased oxygen in the body clears the mind, gives you more energy, and makes you feel happier, healthier, and more alive. Need a little bit of a wake up call? Take a big, deep breath in the wild. Need to destress? Phytoncides are chemicals floating through the air that plants and trees give off to prevent insect infestation and from rot setting in. Phytoncides also help to relax the body, destress, and lower blood pressure. Take to the forest and relax.
Be present. Don't forget: you are creating memories. Take the pictures and document the trip, but don't miss out on the memories you are making with your family. Bring your own nature journal. Sit down and draw with them. Document the day, time, location, temperature, and a picture with a diagram. Model being present and focused. They will follow. Your children want to spend all the time in the world with you. Be there and be present. You will look back and appreciate the uninterrupted time you spent with them.
Prepare for the unexpected but incredible adventure that comes with walking alongside and teaching your children about the nature that surrounds them. Share ways to love & protect nature along the way. They are bound to walk in your steps and follow your lead. Pick up the extra piece of trash. Leave the trail cleaner than when you arrived and leave no trace. By example, you are teaching your children to take care of the planet that will be their responsibility to love and respect.