How to Involve Kids in the Outdoors



How to Involve Kids in the Outdoors

Go Play Outside!

Any time spent outdoors is going to be beneficial for the whole family. Kids especially need plenty of time outdoors to play and explore in a supervised, but free environment. Navigating the outdoors builds their confidence and skills that is best developed in an outdoor environment.

It’s also a fantastic way to enjoy quality time together without screens (except to snap some pictures, of course).

I took both of my children outdoors on hikes, camping trips, off road adventures and long road trips when they turned 2 months old. Everyone told me not to, but I knew they could handle it. In fact, did you know that 2 month olds sleep a lot? There was a lot of sleeping in the carrier, in the tent and in the car. But what matters the most is building those positive experiences and being together.

Whether it’s hunting, hiking, fishing, skiing, climbing and everything else the outdoors has to offer, guaranteed our kids want to be there with us to explore it all!

Here’s how to involve your kids in the outdoors:

Set expectations

One of the best things we can do for our kids is to set some expectations. “We’re going to go on a hike through the woods and search for wild edibles!” Or “We’re going to go find a waterfall!” Or even just, “We’re going to wander a nearby park for a while.” At some point, they won’t need expectations, you’ll say, “Let’s go do this” and they’ll be happy to do it because of all of the amazing past experiences.

Make them as comfortable as possible

Is it raining? Get them rain clothes and rain boots. Is it snowing? Get them snow clothing and snow shoes. Having the proper clothing and shoes is extremely important. Just as you would have appropriate clothing and shoes for yourself, our kids need the same.

Get them their own supplies

My kids absolutely love to get their camelbak on and head out into the woods. It makes them feel more independent that they can get their own water whenever they want. They’re also able to carry their some of own snacks. I started them with their own backpack as early as two. They are fully capable of carrying a few things, like a little bladder of water, some snacks and maybe a toy or small flashlight.

Carry plenty of snacks

It never fails, the second our feet hit the start of the trailhead, I hear from my oldest, “Can I have a snack?” Not only do kids generally love snacks, but since they’ll be moving quite a bit and using calories, you’ll want to carry plenty of food items for them. Popcorn, crackers, sandwiches, fruit, granola bars and anything else your kids enjoy.

Consider a carrier

If you have young kids, you may need a carrier. This is especially important if you plan to take a small child on a hunting trip or up steep hills that could be difficult for them. I highly suggest allowing them time outside of the carrier to explore, but a carrier is a great way to introduce children to the outdoors if they’re not able to walk yet or maybe aren’t capable of walking long distances.

Supplies to carry while outdoors

There are a few things we should be carrying for ‘just in case’:

  • First aid kit, including any kid specific medications like kids antihistamine
  • Lightweight blanket or ground cover for picnics
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Flashlight
  • Map of the area
  • Extra clothing
  • Diapers and wipes (if they’re still in diapers, but wipes are always useful no matter what age)
  • Toilet paper (can be packed out in a ziploc bag)

Skills to teach them

Here are some things that we can teach them when we’re outdoors:

  • Wild edibles
  • Navigation and how to read a compass
  • Learn about rocks, trees, bugs and animals
  • Find animal tracks
  • Tying knots
  • Wood carving (when they’re old enough)
  • Making a fire (they can watch you do it and can participate when at an appropriate age)
  • How to purify water
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Talk about how plants and trees grow
  • Learn to make dyes from plants and wild edibles
  • Learn to make natural cordage
  • Make a fun primitive shelter out of leaves and twigs
  • Learn to fish and hunt

Kids are little sponges. They are desperate to learn. Some things they may not be interested in, but that’s ok! Just being there is sometimes enough. Even more so, they love to spend time with you and doing so in a fun outdoor space will be memories to last a lifetime.

How will you be getting outdoors with your kids?

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