Doing outdoor activities with kids, or as I like to call them-“funtivities”, is among the best things that you can do for them these days. In a world of social media, Youtube celebrities, and video games then sometimes the best things we can do is get the kids away from the constant stimulation of video, music and other media and give them something to really appreciate it. Being outside, for example.
When I was a kid, and I’m sure many of you, it was hard to get us to come inside at the end of the day. These days, it’s just opposite with many young people.
Many of us know that kayaking, fishing, canoeing, camping and hiking are not individual activities (in many cases). They are combined to form one great outing. For instance, camping at a spot for multiple days where you’ll be doing all of or some of those activities.
The fresh air, natural scenery, “unplugged” way of life is just what many people need these days. Depending on where you live then the locations to totally unplug, catch glimpses of nature, beautifully clear night skies, wildlife, and lush scenery are sadly dwindling. Even though it’s a different sort of sensory stimulant, nature can outperform Call of Duty, Justin Bieber, and the Avengers on any given day.
Here are some Tips for Planning Outdoors Adventure with Kids-
- If you have city kids or “indoors kids” then you should consider practicing camping at home (if possible) prior to an overnight or multiple day camping trip. Let them help or observe pitching a tent, prepping a kayak, inventorying fishing tackle, emergency gear, food rations, etc.
- Don’t discount the act of sleeping in a tent (indoors or out) as a great way of prepping kids for camping.
- Let them help inventory the fishing tackle. One thing we always do here before a kayak fishing trip or camping outing is prep lines, sinkers, etc the day before so that we already have some pre-made rigs.
- Have your kids been outside much at all? If not, then get them to a local lake, hiking trail, fishing spot, etc and see how they react and experience the situation.
- As you go on outings with your family and something goes “not quite right” then start to jot down notes for future preparedness. For instance “need more bug spray”, “the jerky was a big hit”, “make sure everyone packs cold weather gear”, etc.
- Your kids will feed off of your energy. If you’re half-heartedly invested in the camping or kayaking trip then they’ll be even less enthusiastic.
- Ask kids for input.
- Let them bring stuff to keep them occupied. Video games aren’t going to work but a Yahtzee! game and a few cool magazines might do the trick.
- Let them pack their own backpack of what they think they’ll need and then inspect prior and give suggestions on what they don’t really need and what they should pack. Explain why.
- Do your homework. Don’t get kids all excited about being able to build a campfire and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows only to get to a site that has a “campfires not permitted’ policy.
Once You Get to the Campground-
- Be positive and reinforce this with your kids. Camping is about being a little bit “out in the wild”. Make sure that they understand that every day, normal conveniences are unavailable but they are experiences you’ll come to love.
- Organize and then Stay Organized. Just like at home the silverware goes in one drawer and the aluminum foil goes somewhere else, set places for important items so that everyone knows where to find them when needed. NOTE: This is particularly true of fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and emergency survival gear.
- Keep kids involved and responsible for some basic chores like stowing the kayak paddles and fishing gear after use. Picking up litter, collecting firewood.
- Whistles for everyone. Make sure that they family wears whistles and when someone blows then they should all answer back with two quick, bursts.
- Educate your children on procedures for wildlife in the outdoors. Certain ways to stow and keep food and trash. How to handle a face to face encounter if it should happen, etc.
- Use the Time to Actually Spend it as a Family Outdoors-
- Examine stuff. Bugs, little animals, leaves, logs, turn over a few rocks, stars, flowers, berries, fish, hike, kayak.
- Some National and State camping parks have evening Ranger talks or “briefs” this will be educational for your entire family.
This isn’t an all inclusive list but I’m sure that this will get you started or at least help you to remember and be aware. Everyone should have fun in the outdoors. Remember, whether you’re hiking, kayaking, fishing, camping or ALL of them, this is a time for outdoor “funtivities”.
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