Ten Cool Ways to Get Kids Excited about the Outdoors
Nothing is worse than trips out with bored kids. So the question is – how can we create excitement without breaking the bank?
Family trips need to be planned – and I really do mean plan; don’t just decide to do something today and all pile in the car and set off. Sit down and plan out something that takes into account your children’s ages, abilities and interests.
Include them in the planning if they have an idea of what they would like to do. The goal is to make a family trip that will be talked about until the next amazing adventure.
Remember, children love to explore and interact with the world around them, we just need to get them interested. Some of the trips below do take weeks and sometimes months to plan.
Climb a mountain
Planning to climb a mountain should take weeks, if not months. This can be one of the most unforgiving areas to explore with your family, and you need to be prepared. On your first few trips take a guide or two. It is worth the planning and the time. Learn some climbing skills before you go so you know the language of mountain and rock climbing.
Learn what the gear is and how to use it. This is not an activity for younger children, but if you are looking for something that will appeal to a teen, this is it as it teaches them to rely on themselves and others. It will help them develop patience, stamina, and physical strength. For your younger children, a climb of 30 minutes will satisfy them as they have less stamina than their older siblings. Plan for the ages of your children for this as with any other activity.
Hike to a waterfall or swimming hole
You can make this the end of your hike or a stop-off part way through. Nothing excites children more than a swim somewhere new. Children don’t mind that the water may be icy, so sit down and watch them play and explore. Join them if you are brave enough. The cool water is great for sore muscles and is a great pick-me-up. Take plenty of sunscreen and bug spray, though. This is one trip that doesn’t necessarily need a lot of planning, and it may be a place you come back to regularly in the heat of summer.
Raft a wilderness river
Anywhere there is an accessible river that is a mix of flat and rapid water, there are going to be guided trips for the novice or places for the experienced to take their families.
You don’t necessarily need to be a novice to make use of the guided trips. Sometimes it’s good to sit back and watch the enjoyment your children are having as they get bumped around on white water. A multi-day adventure has the fun of a hike without the long walks.
Out on your hikes, you may see some of the larger wildlife such as mountain goats, deer, sea lions, or bears. Take binoculars, and you will be surprised at how your children can sit for some time looking for these often-camouflaged animals. It is important to stress to them that these are wild animals and it’s important not to get too close. Seeing such animals going about their daily lives in their natural environments always produces awe and an awareness of nature at its best.
In southern Utah, there are two slot canyons that are child-friendly. Peek-a-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch are in southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Some slot canyons were created by flash floods and require some technical skills and gear for rappelling. The two mentioned, however, need no gear to experience them and can be hiked in a couple of hours or so. Do check the weather report as they are still prone to flash floods.
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Take a High Thrill Hike
Places like Zion National Park have hikes that feel thrilling and a little scary. You walk along what seems to be a knife edge ridge, with chains available for hand holds. Not a place to go if you have a fear of heights, but the views are worth the climb. It most certainly gets the heart racing. Explore online for other great hikes.
Trek or ski to a back country hut
Online you can find maps, guides, and lots of information on where to trek, or to ski if you are going in winter, to one of the many huts dotting about in the backcountry. This will require planning as you will need to be able to carry in your own supplies. Some huts are in ecologically fragile areas, so make sure your family is educated as to what you can or cannot do. The treks come in a range of skill levels, and you should be able to find something for your family.
Watch a geyser erupt
Around the world, there are many places where you can see this safely. If you are in the USA, try to get to Yellowstone Park, one of the natural wonders of the world and open all summer long for visitors. Old Faithful is a good geyser to start with, but there are others you can get to, with and without guides, depending on the ages and abilities of your children.
Walk up to a glacier
You must remember that glaciers are still moving, so take a knowledgeable guide and don’t let your children climb on them or get too close. As they slowly grind forward or back, depending on the glacier, they lose chucks of ice that can fall without warning. It will help your children to appreciate the amazing power of nature as she continues to shape the planet.
Wild camp on a beach
Kayaking and hiking can get you to untamed areas such as tiny beaches. Make sure you set up camp high up on the beach and take note of the high tide mark. These are great places to unwind after a hike and be able to sit back and watch the sun set as your children play and explore tide pools. .
Plan ahead but make alternative plans in case of changes such as bad weather. Get the right gear and skills before you go, and have fun as a family.
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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.
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