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There are few joys as a parent greater than showing your kids the incredible natural wonders of Mother Nature and all the fun that can be had outside. That said, it's also extremely important to give them the tools and knowledge necessary to make sure they stay safe and have a healthy respect for natural places. Here's 4 simple tips to properly introduce your kids to the outdoors.
As you might have expected from an outdoor & survival gear company, we strongly believe in the importance of outfitting your kids with quality, useful gear that will make the most of their time outdoors. That means starting with the basics like a first aid kid and a sturdy backpack, and over time setting them up with other essentials like a quality flashlight and even a good knife if the child is old enough and you trust them to treat it with respect.
Learning how to safely use and take care of outdoor gear can be a fantastic lesson for a child. Time spent outdoors can boost their confidence, increase their self-esteem, and give them a wider appreciation for the world around them. These are positive, lasting impacts that can stay with a child their entire lives. By trusting them with tools of the trade that are well-made and functional, you can teach important lessons of responsibility while also having a ton of fun.
If you're going to spend time outside with your kids, you need to lead by example. That means never getting into an unsafe situation or being under-prepared for an outing. The outdoors is a beautiful, but very unforgiving place. Without proper respect and knowledge of how to navigate its dangers, you not only set a poor example for your kids - you may potentially put them in danger.
First, educate yourself on the latest standards of backcountry survival and safety skills. Take wilderness first aid classes with your child. Consider enrolling them in the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts to learn additional skills. Turn yourself into an expert first, and then pass that knowledge on to your kids. You'd be surprised at what sponges kids are when it comes to even serious topics like backcountry safety. In the event they find themselves lost and alone outside, they'll have some basic skills to stay safe and seek help without endangering themselves further.
The outdoors is a broad canvas that can be painted by a million different fun activities. Hiking, camping, climbing, swimming, boating, paddleboarding, ziplining, slacklining -- the choices are nearly endless.
That means that if your kid doesn't like a certain activity, it pays to be patient with them. Love of the outdoors is sometimes best fostered through an activity that a person really likes. If you know your child doesn't like swimming or water sports, avoid lake adventures and go to the mountains! If they like being outside but hate the cold, start with trips that are only during the spring and summer months. Part of the fun of parenting is to expose your kid to a bunch of different experiences and figuring out which one they take to. The outdoors is the same way!
As adults, we often use outdoor recreation to refresh ourselves after too many hours spent indoors, staring at a screen, or being stressed out by the very real difficulties of adult life. But remember that children don't have this same experience as us. They don't necessarily need to be "refreshed" by the outdoors, because they haven't seen how much of adult life is spent doing things you don't necessarily want to do.
What this all means is that kids suffer from outdoor "burn-out" a lot faster than adults do -- even kids who generally enjoy going on hiking or camping trips. If you're a parent who loves the outdoors, make sure not to overdo it with your kid and turn them off from spending time outside. They may return to the outdoors later in life, still loaded with the skills and knowledge you provided, and finally ready to pass on those lessons to the next generation.