Our boys love to be outdoors. When given the freedom to explore, they thrive. I think this is normal for most children. Some of my greatest memories as a child were spent outside with my family. In our busy world, there is freedom in unplugging from the chaos and heading outside, whether it be for an hour to hike, a few days, or sometimes even longer. I want my children to respect nature and understand its ability to heal your soul. When they reflect on their childhood, I want them to remember the moments we spent together outside as a family creating memories, and to pass that on to their children. So when we have an opportunity to fan that flame in them, we take it. Here are just a few ways we do that.kids on a wooded trail

GETTING THEM EXCITED WITH THE GEAR 

The weather is starting to warm up here in Utah now that Spring is here. This means more time outside, hiking, and camping. We’re starting to plan some overnight backpacking trips as a family. The first thing we’ve started gathering is our gear. So a few weeks ago, I took the boys down to REI and we looked at some new packs for them. When we walked in the store they bolted for the backpack section. Their faces lit up as they tried on each pack. The boys pointed out where they could put their snacks and water. Each of them picked out the color they wanted. They​ were so pumped, and so was I.  It was awesome to see them get so excited about it.

FUN! FUN! FUN! ACTIVITIES TO KEEP THEM BUSY

If your kids are anything like ours, we have to have many options ready for kiddos that might says those two words that every parent dreads: “I’m bored!” There are so many activities that can be done with the munchkins outside! A scavenger hunt is such a fun way for the whole family to get involved and keep the young ones busy. Before you head out the door, make a list of things to spot on the trails and give them each a pencil. Minimal time invested initially and the kids might spot something they otherwise wouldn’t have seen. Another fun activity to play is I Spy. This is one of our kids’ favorites! One of the kids spots something on the trail and says, “I Spy…” while providing a clue about the object. We play this one weekly. If you have young ones learning their ABC’s, you can gather some sticks and have them position them to make letters. One activity that we’re excited to try this summer are sun prints. Using sun print paper or fabric, you can take leaves, flowers, anything you choose, and lay it on the paper. When exposed to the sun, it leaves a print of your object. How cool is that?!

GIFT GEAR THEY CAN USE OUTSIDE

I’ve starting being more conscious of what we buy and how it’s used. When buying gifts, we get items that they can use outside on camp-outs or hikes. A recent gift the boys received was a set of Walkie Talkies. They love taking them on hikes to talk to each other. In almost every picture I take of us on the trails, you’ll see a Walkie Talkie attached to one of our boys. Another great gift is a hydration pack. We bought one for the oldest as a birthday gift and he loves it. Every hike we go on he has it on his back. A compass, slackline, camping pillow…really the options are limitless. When you see them get excited and put it to use, well that is an added bonus.

PLAY GAMES THAT HELP THEM BE AWARE

My husband started to play a fun game with the kids when we go on hikes. As they lead us down the trail, he’ll have one of the boys leading search for bears and the other one search for snakes. It turns into a game as they march down the trail, eyes peeled for wild animals. This is awesome for two reasons. One, they are occupied and having fun keeping an eye out, which in turn means they aren’t focused on tired legs or how much farther we plan to go. Second, this teaches them to be aware of their surroundings. It is possible to come upon some animal when we are hiking and they need to be aware of that danger. We’ve turned it into a game and they love it.4 boys on a winter trail with hiking backpacks

FOSTER A GENUINE LOVE

I can’t even count how many times the boys asked us to go camping last year. If it was up to them I’m pretty sure we would live in a tent somewhere out in the wilderness. When we’re out, they spot prints that my oldest is certain are from a wolf. The boys run up hills, point out cool rocks, show me pretty flowers, and observe the mountains. As we try to encourage a love for the outdoors, I can see it already there in our boys. They always end up ahead of us on the trail. I’m the one telling them to slow down so we don’t lose anyone. My kids are more free and full of excitement out exploring than they are doing anything else. We try to encourage this love for it, when in reality, it’s already present. As parents, we just have to get them out the door.

PRETTY SOON IT WILL BE THEIR IDEA

As my oldest was putting on his shoes this morning he said, “Mommy, can we go hiking today?” This makes my heart do a happy dance. Especially since we just went on a hike yesterday. To hear his longing to be outside on the trails again is exciting. This means he’d rather be out on a hiking instead of watching TV or playing his Nintendo DS. I count that as a parenting win.  We want to raise our kids in a way that encourages an outdoor and active lifestyle. To do this, we prioritize hiking. We purchase items that they can use outdoors​ exploring and significantly reduce access to TV or other things that appeal to them when inside. This shift in our home has been huge. We hope to continue this trend and encourage other families to do the same as we continue to explore and create memories as a family on the trails.

This post is sponsored by Easy Camp.

At Easy Out Camp Inc., we are passionate about camping and we believe that everyone should experience the enjoyment of living outdoors at least once in their lifetime. We want to make the outdoors easy for everyone – a fun, vibrant environment in which to enjoy the freedom of life. And our aim is to play the fullest role in making a fantastic camping experience that creates great memories – including developing an exciting online community where you can meet new friends and find inspiration and advice. Easy Out Camp Inc.– “Just Add People.” More information is available at www.easycamp.com

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