Have Child, Will Get Outside
By Wendy Priesnitz
Whether you’d like to get outside right now, or are planning for your
next vacation, there is no reason to let having a young child in your
family stop you.
Outdoor activities are a fun and inexpensive way to get your kids up
and moving, avoiding the obesity epidemic and forging life-long habits
and passions. The outdoors provides a great natural learning experience,
as well as unique opportunities to bond with your child without the
distractions of daily life. You’ll save money because, once you have the
equipment, it’s less expensive to go fishing or snowshoeing than to take
the kids to an amusement park.
With a little bit of planning and preparation, children of all ages
can accompany you as you enjoy outdoor activities year ‘round, whether
it’s a cross-country skiing expedition, an afternoon of cycling, a
30-minute hike or a week-long backpacking trip.
Planning Your Family’s Outdoor Adventure
- Set reasonable limits and allow plenty of extra time for everything –
packing gear, getting up in the morning, cooking, setting up the tent,
and hiking. Remember that, in winter, the snow will slow you down and
exhaust short legs.
- If you or your kids are first-time campers, consider doing a
rehearsal right in your backyard, learning how to set up a tent and how
to build a campfire.
- A tent with a vestibule is perfect for the family dog, or for storing
wet boots and backpacks.
- A “three-season” sleeping bag is good for most conditions. Look for
junior or short-sized bags for kids And keep the sleeping bags dry –
pack in plastic bags, use a tent cloth underneath your tent and teach
your kids good tent etiquette to keep things dry.
- Equipment can be expensive, especially if you have several children.
You can solve that problem with used gear from a equipment swaps. Many
sporting goods stores rent things like snowshoes and cross-country skis,
giving you a chance to try different activities and equipment before
- Make sure everybody has proper-fitting waterproof boots, either
non-insulated hiking books or insulated winter boots, waterproof or
quick-drying clothing and sun protection.
- A backpacking trip is just an extended hike, sleeping out at least
one night. Be careful that nobody carries too much weight – about 20
percent of body weight is suggested.
- If you’re hiking with a baby, look for a child carrier that comes
with accessories such as sun or rain canopies so that your passenger
stays cozy and shielded from the elements. A front carrier or sling is
recommended for babies up to six months old, to give head and neck
- Hikes with infants should be very short; older babies may last up to
an hour at a time. Given ample snacks, toddlers can usually handle a
one- to two-mile hike.
- To keep older children interested, make the hike a game of discovery,
using a scavenger list of things to find along the way. Pack some bird
and plant identification guides along with your patience.
- Lastly, while planning is important, don’t take over and get your
kids too organized. Make sure they’re involved from the beginning, then
step back, let them learn from their own experiences and enjoy their
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