GUEST BLOG: Mark Huelsing, Children and the outdoors
Mark Huelsing, of “Sole Adventure,” joins us again with his next guest blog post ‘Children and the Outdoors’. Like us, he is a big supporter of encouraging our youth to participate and appreciate the beautiful outdoors. See below for his tips on how to inspire your children to be outdoor adventurers like you!
One area of research that fascinates me is how spending time in the outdoors affects our lives in various ways. Research suggests, and my personal experience confirms, that spending time in nature is good for our mental, physical, and spiritual lives. Spending time outdoors is good for all of us, but it is especially beneficial for children. We live in an era in which most kids spend considerably more time exploring the internet than they do exploring the great outdoors. I think that needs to change.
I could write volumes on why spending time outdoors is important for children, but today I want to talk about a few tips on how to share the outdoors with children. Before I dive into the tips, let me clarify that this article isn’t just for parents. You may or may not have children of your own, but chances are you do have children in your life that you can share the outdoors with.
The first key to enjoying the outdoors with kids is to be patient at every step of the way. Kids are easily distracted, and their natural curiosity leads them to find special interest in things that we may consider ordinary. One of the reasons that I love hiking with my daughter is because she forces me to slow down, see the small things, and enjoy the process. After all, that is the reason many of us started to head outdoors in the first place.
The second tip is an obvious one, but it is surely the most important thing to be reminded of. Make the trip fun! Relax the rules and enjoy the experience. Your kids may be loud or get dirty, it is okay. In fact, it is a good outlet for them. One unique way to have fun outdoors, especially with smaller children, is to help them start a collection. Head outside and search for unusual rocks, special flowers, or other special artifacts. Be creative and make the experience special!
Finally, one mistake that many of us make is trying to get our children to enjoy the outdoors in the same way that we do. Maybe you are a hunter, a fisherman, or a hiker; certainly you would hope that your child would enjoy doing these activities as well, but I have found out that the key to getting children to enjoy the outdoors is to try a lot of different activities, and not just what you enjoy doing. Leave your expectations at the house and try something new!
It is never too early, or too late to share the outdoors with a child in your life. Be patient, get creative, and head outside to see what new adventures you can share together!