Originally posted June 2020.

As a community of families who love the outdoors (or who are learning to love it), it is always inspiring to hear how that love originated. Some of us grew up camping and hiking almost since birth. For others, outdoor exploration didn’t start until much later in life. Either way, most of us can credit the role models in our lives for instilling that love of the outdoors in us, and for many of us, that role model is our dad.

Dad and son in a hammock

In honor of Father’s Day, we asked our Hike it Baby community to share how their dad—or other father figures—influenced their love of nature and the outdoors.

How the Father Figures in Our Lives Have Influenced Our Love of the Outdoors

“He influenced our love for outdoors by just BEING outdoors himself… tinkering, gardening, eating, relaxing, playing. He also EXPLAINED the outdoors to us, so we learned about the world around us…stars, plants, bugs, weather, water, history. There was always a science lesson to be taught.” Christine, HiB Calgary, AB, Canada

“Growing up, camping was the only kind of vacation my family could afford, and thankfully my parents loved to [go camping] with our pop-up tent trailer. My dad was the one who took my siblings and me on hikes, to beaches and lakes, and on adventures while our mom stayed at the campsite and cooked. Just taking us to beautiful places and encouraging us to climb trees and boulders, wade in lakes and streams, heavily influenced my love for the outdoors.” Alex, HiB Salt Lake City, UT

“My dad, a city boy from NY, dreamed of the mountains. He found his way to Alaska and climbed Denali, found my mom, had a family and raised us outside hiking and camping. We made so many memories on our adventures.” Juliana, HiB Fairbanks, AK

“My dad 100% inspired my love of the outdoors. He took my sister and me hiking and camping many times each summer as kids!” Colleen, HiB New Brunswick, NJ

“From birth, my dad would scoop us up and take us outside for a walk anytime we were fussy. Sibling argument?… Let’s take a walk and talk it through. One of my clearest memories early on is sitting on the porch, churning ice cream, and watching a thunderstorm grow in the distance. It was the way that the outdoors were a part of every day and every activity that made it more than love, it made it life.” Jennifer, HiB Charlottesville, VA

“My husband has helped encourage my love of the outdoors and he is a father. He gets our kids outside every chance he can and is always showing them new things. He also helped my love for the outdoors grow.” Beth Ann, HiB Pittsburgh, PA

“I’m not even sure my dad consciously knew he was instilling his love of the outdoors in us! In the winter we would sit with our bird book identifying birds at the bird feeder. Long walks together down our country roads were a regular occurrence. He was and is still always puttering in the yard, gardening, observing everything around him. He would even take us hunting with him, and when we didn’t get anything, he would always say “It’s ok, I just like an excuse to walk in the woods.” Sarah, HiB Brockville, Ontario

“My dad has always believed that fresh air clears the head and calms the nerves, so anytime my siblings or I were working through something, he would say “take a walk with me.” We would walk or hike for miles (and still do when I go back for a visit), and he would listen to us vent and give advice when it was needed. And now anytime I need to clear my head, I step outside and let the fresh air calm me, just like he taught me.” Becca, HiB Kitsap Peninsula, WA

“My dad was my rock. He was calm, patient, and understanding. When he passed in 2018, I realized that the traits that draw me to the woods, to the top of a mountain, to the warm shallows of a lake were rooted in the love and support that I had felt from my father my entire life. And when I’m missing my dad, I find him again in nature.” Sara, HiB Grand Rapids, MI

“My dad took me camping in Yosemite for the first time when I was 7 and then again every summer until I was a too-cool teenager. Without knowing it he introduced me to my favorite place in the world and to the beauty and wonder of spending time outside.” Linzay, HiB San Diego, CA

dad walking with young daughter on a hiking trail

How has your own dad, or the father figure in your life, inspired your love of the outdoors? Share in the comments!

Join a community of like-minded parents and caregivers with a shared mission of connecting families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. Learn about Hike it Baby donation-based membership options and join the fun today!

About Hike it Baby

Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America. Since its grassroots inception in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby is now a growing community of 270,000 families and 500 volunteer branch ambassadors hosting more than 1,600 hikes per month. More information, as well as daily hike schedules, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Stephanie Jacobson and Arika Bauer.

Editors Note:
We hope you enjoyed reading this article from Hike it Baby. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you.
But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We do not make this ask lightly, but if you are able to afford it, make a donation, and become a Hike it Baby member.  A membership also makes a great gift for that new parent in your life. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. If you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.


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