The third Sunday of every June has been known as Father’s Day since the American holiday was invented in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd. Today it is celebrated by families around the country, and many in the outdoors community take the day to explore the natural world with their loved ones, and of course, their father or father figure.
If you ask most parents, they’ll tell you that finding the balance between pursuing their own passions and that of their children can be a daunting task. Inspiring kids to get outdoors and explore doesn’t need to be difficult, and with a few helpful tips, tricks and anecdotes, we hope that we can make celebrating dad in the wild enjoyable and a tradition in your family for years to come!
Maximizing Your Time Outdoors with Kids: Tips & Tricks
No, we’re not talking about maximizing the amount of time you spend outdoors with kids, but rather how to make it an experience they’ll want to repeat year after year. We asked our team of Mountain Technicians if they had any sage parental advice from their time exploring with their kiddos.
Building Kid’s Stamina Takes Time & Patience
Just like adults, kids can’t just jump into a 10-mile hike with no conditioning. Starting with smaller, shorter hikes and camping trips will pay dividends when you head out for a longer hike or overnight adventure. During your adventures, take lots of breaks and let the young ones set the pace. The biggest key is inspiring the young ones to have confidence in their own abilities and limits, an experience that will stay with them forever.
Don’t Force the Outdoors on Kids
One of the greatest aspects of watching young children grow is seeing them discover new and exciting aspects of life on Earth, including experiencing the outdoors and the natural world for the first time. If you’re already a passionate outdoors person, it's likely that your kids will see that and take interest in your favorite activities. When they show excitement around getting outdoors with you, embrace it and run with it.
Incentivize Outdoors Time
Mountain Tech Pete Stoughton and his family came up with a great solution to keeping kids moving and happy on the trail: bargaining. By creating an incentive, whether that's ice cream at the end of the day or their favorite snacks during the adventure, you can keep the young ones focused on what's ahead and happy on the trail.
Gear Essentials for Adventuring with Kids
Aside from the normal baby and/or kids gear you need to bring along, there are several pieces of essential gear that will make your next trip a breeze.
Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks
It's no secret that a hungry kid is an unhappy kid, and the simplest way to avoid this is by packing way more snacks than you might think you need. It's surprising how much a quick snack stop complete with fresh fruit and a granola bar can abate the risk of a tantrum and make sure the young ones are happy campers all day!
Bring More Insulation Than You Think You Need
Comfort on the trail isn't just for adults, and having extra layers for the kids will keep everyone happier on the trail or in the field. A spare jacket can keep you all outdoors longer, and might even earn you the lovely experience of watching the sunset with your family surrounding you.
Plenty of Extra Clothes
Kids have little to no regard for the cleanliness of their clothes and when they’re deep into exploring with you, they’ll likely need a fresh set of clean clothes to change into when the day is through, and you’re piling back into the car for the ride home.
Entertainment for Down Time During the Trip
Mountain Tech Lawrence Kuracina highly recommends packing plenty of car games, cards, and books to keep everyone entertained on the road and in camp. Books showing the wildlife and plants you may encounter during your adventure are a great way to pique your kid's interest in the natural world and let their curiosity fuel their time outdoors as they hunt for the species they just learned about. Games and playing cards are nearly always worth packing to pass the time in case you get weathered in, or are killing time before bedtime!
Gear of Their Own
When I was a kid, one of the biggest gifts I can recall was camping gear of my own. For years I had dug through my parents’ outdoor gear, craving the opportunity to get some of my own. Once I had my own gear, the desire to put it to good use led me to beg my family to go on trips into our local public lands. Looking back, it would seem that being a gear junkie is certainly hereditary, and is also an easy way to plant and nurture the desire for outdoor adventure!