How to raise kids to be Nature and adventure enthusiasts
Remember those good old days before virtual reality video games and smartphones when we all as kids, used to spend hours up a tree, laying in the grass, or turning over rocks in the local creek?
Actually, not much has changed. Kids still love the outdoors. They still want to explore and get dirty just like we did. But sometimes they need a helping hand discovering what nature has to offer. Not all kids love school but they do love to learn and what better way to bond with your child than sharing your knowledge or learning a new skill with them.
Where do you start?
Whether you are raising a trail warrior, a camping ace or a survivalist-in-training, here are 10 outdoor camping skills that will keep your kids coming back for more.
Knot tying can be as much an art as it is a skill. But when you need to hang a bear bag or hoist a tarp it pays to know just the right hitch to get the job done. Learning knots can require a lot of focus and patience which can be difficult for children who have wandering minds and short attention spans, so start small and go slow.
Looking for something to take the place of the nightly Netflix cartoon binge? One of the best parts of camping out away from the city lights is being able to see the whole night sky. And searching the sky for constellations, stars and planets can keep kids entertained for hours.
- Use an App like SkyMap to show the movement of the stars through the evening and to identify stars, constellations, planets and even moving objects like satellites and the international space station.
- Bring a telescope so you can get an up close look at the moon’s craters. Don’t have one? Try this travel telescope from Celestron that packs easily into a backpack for star gazing on the go.
Even though they have mastered climbing all over your furniture and countertops, your little monkey still might need some guidance when it comes to good tree climbing skills.
- Make sure they are either barefoot or wearing shoes with good traction to avoid sliding
- Find a tree with low branches so they can pull themselves up
- Teach them to use both their arms to pull and their legs to push
- Encourage them to stay on the inner part of the branches where the limbs are sturdiest and less likely to break
IDENTIFYING BIRDS AND ANIMALS
Another great way to keep kids entertained both at the campsite and on the trail is teaching them about the birds and animals around them. They’ll also learn to be aware of their surroundings, a great skill to have in the wilderness.
- Bird watching
- Animal tracks
- Get a pocket field guide like this one on Animal Tracks as an easy reference on the trail
- Keep an eye on the ground for tracks and other evidence that animals have been nearby
- Use your phone or camera to take pictures of the tracks you found
LEAVE NO TRACE
Three words that should be in every outdoorsmen’s vocabulary. It’s important to follow the Leave No Trace rules when camping or backpacking so we can keep the natural world intact for the next generation to enjoy. So get the next generation of conservationists going early.
READING MAPS AND SIGNS
Learning to read and follow trail markers and maps is a great way to get your children more involved when you’re hiking. It will also give them a skill they can use their whole lives.
- Use this article by How To Wilderness to teachyour kids the meaning of blazes, cairns and ducks.
- Choose a trail that you know is well marked and has a map.
- Before heading out on the trail, familiarize your child with the map and the trail that you plan to take. You can even highlight the trail to help them remember.
- Give them a copy of the map and let them guide the group (while you keep a watchful eye of course).
USING A COMPASS
A compass is one of the oldest methods of navigation by sea and land. Going hand in hand with reading a map, it can be an excellent tool when trail markers aren’t well maintained or are spaced far apart. Try this Coleman compass that your child can wear around their neck.
There are so many activities that can help nurture a love of the outdoors. By teaching them valuable skills you’ll not only get lots of bonding time with you kids in the great outdoors, you’ll be raising well rounded outdoor enthusiasts and nature conservationists.