Getting kids outside is hard, even for the most adventurous of parents. Technology has an effect on children that can rival that of ice cream trucks, toy stores, and Disneyland combined. While these tools are useful and can be life-saving when you need a child to just sit still and be quiet for one minute, sweetheart, so I can get this done, please—studies show that playing and exploring outdoors is still the key to exciting their imagination, exercising their bodies, and expanding their knowledge of the world around them. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available, so we’ve compiled some tips and tools for any parents who are looking for more family adventures.
1. Start ’em young
Taking young children into nature can be daunting—one negative experience associated with the great outdoors can make it tough to get them out again, and adventures by definition are unpredictable and risky. However, waiting too long to introduce your child to the world of adventure may result in a reluctant and uninterested kid down the road. Be courageous and just give it a try, going in with an attitude of experimentation and flexibility, and some games and activities up your sleeve to keep them engaged. Don’t forget to take notes of lessons learned for next time!
2. Enjoy the little things
Little moments mean a lot to little humans, so take advantage of them. Pull the car over to enjoy the sunset. Get on your hands and knees to watch the ants go marching. Instead of running inside when it starts to rain, turn your face to the sky. Consistent experiences with nature will help children develop a love for it, and that love is what will motivate them to be active and environmentally conscious in the future.
3. Let them take the reins
Giving your child some independence in the wilderness will whet their appetite for the freedom that comes with adventuring. Involve them early on in the planning process so they feel ownership over the experience, and listen to their suggestions once the adventure has begun. You can also lighten up their pack so they can carry it on their own, and provide them with their own tools like a compass, binoculars, or a map they drew out beforehand.
4. Make nature part of their education
Combining nature and education is a win-win. The atmosphere of growth, vitality, and clarity found in the wilderness is a perfect learning environment. Science, art, music, even reading and writing can all be taught easily and effectively in nature. Or, just bring a blanket and work on some homework or read a book in the fresh air.
Beyond cultivating a love of nature in your children, the quality time spent together will strengthen your relationship, as well. Adventure and wilderness bring people together like nothing else can. Camaraderie, trust, and understanding grow easily in the vulnerability and unity of the wild. Aching shoulders from carrying an extra backpack and a headache from tolerating some whining are small prices to pay for the healthy bond between parent and child, and memories that will be cherished forever.
Happy Father’s Day! Do you have any fond memories of enjoying adventure with your old man, or any ideas for how to create those memories for your children? Leave a comment and let us know! Also, it’s not too late to check out our 2015 Father’s Day collection.
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