Giving the Gift of Outdoor Family Experiences

You want to spend time with your children outdoors. But except for some big vacations and the occasional hike, it doesn’t seem to be happening. If you hope to get your family outdoors more regularly in the coming year, here are six tips to help make it happen.

  1. Relax. Research has found that most children don’t actually want more time with their parents, but they do want their parents to be less tired and stressed when they’re together. Look for ways to reduce the tension and demands on yourself so that your time outdoors with your children can be a source of pleasure. This might mean turning off your phone or setting aside work, errands, or household chores for several hours, to give the experience your full attention.
  2. Build it in to your day or week. Don’t wait for vacation to get outside. Walk or bike to school with your child if it’s possible, or run errands on foot as a family. Schedule outdoor time just like you might a play date or doctor’s appointment.
  3. Encourage outdoor chores. Raking leaves, shoveling snow, sweeping porches or patios, or planting and maintaining a garden are all great ways for your kids to spend time outdoors close to home and learn responsibility.
  4. Let the kids lead. Take a break from structuring the day’s program or entertaining your children, and simply take (or send) them outside. What games will they invent? Let their creativity flower.
  5. Include friends. Whether it’s your children’s friends or your own, other people bring fresh ideas, skills, and fun to your outings—and they can help you commit to a plan and stick to it. If you want to expand your circle of outdoor-oriented friends, look to AMC or other community groups, such as Navigators USA, to meet families who share your interests.
  6. Make a trip. Visiting someplace new can revive your sense of adventure and your children’s enthusiasm. Whether it’s a day trip to hike a nearby mountain, a weekend overnight, or a destination vacation that you anticipate for months, exploring fresh outdoor surroundings together is a great gift. Try AMC’s guidebooks or trip listings for ideas.

Gift ideas for outdoor families
Outdoor gifts for kids and families
Good guides: a book list for young naturalists 
Get past “no” and get outdoors with kids

Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an Appalachian Mountain Club blog, written by Heather Stephenson.
Photo by Jennifer Bauer/

Labels: ,