For kids and adults new to the outdoors, it can feel a little daunting to know where to begin. But instilling a sense of wonder and respect for mother nature can start at any age. It has huge payoffs such as developing resilience, health, and wellbeing. It only takes a little preparation, practice, and a positive mindset to build a lifelong passion for the outdoors. Below are some tips to help you and your family to explore more confidently.


Pack a First Aid Kit

When it comes to the outdoors, prevention is key and a well-prepared first aid kit can be your lifeline. For every outing, remember to refill your first aid kit and pack any medications (including inhalers, allergy medications, Epipiens, bandages, etc). that you and your kids may need. If your kids have specific allergies, know what they are and learn how to use an EpiPen to prevent any possible anaphylaxis (where a person may be unable to breathe, swallow or respond). Having a first aid kit on hand can help tend to small scrapes and bruises, but it also can give your family extra time to get to safety in an emergency.  


Be Prepared for the Weather 

Mother nature can be unpredictable. Having appropriate gear and packing for the weather will make kids and adults more comfortable and willing to engage in new activities. 

  • If it’s cold out, be outfitted in clothes that keep you warm and dry (think waterproof/windproof). Don’t forget the hat, gloves, and hand warmers. Layer up in synthetic fabrics and avoid cotton because cotton takes longer to dry when wet. Wearing wet clothes makes you lose heat faster and can expose you to hypothermia. 
  • For the heat, it’s always best to time your activity to prevent overheating and heat illness. Start early in the day to avoid hot afternoons, take breaks in the shade, and be sure to wear light and loose clothes to keep cool. It could take as little as 15 minutes to get a sunburn, so don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • UV rays are especially strong in high altitudes and can reflect off snow and water, so even if it’s cold the skin can still burn. Reapply often if your family is in the water or sweating a lot. A good rule of thumb is SPF 30 should be reapplied every 1-2 hours.
  • If you’re participating in or near any bodies of water, be sure to get your family fitted for proper life jackets and always keep close eyes on kids to prevent potential drowning.   


Pay Attention & Be Open to Changes in Plans

Kids will let you know how they’re doing. Pay attention to your kids’ moods and behaviors when starting new outdoor activities. If we want to create a positive connection for future explorers, then we need to create an enjoyable and memorable experience for now. Be prepared to let go of your agenda for the day and be open to turning around. It’s more important to safely get down a mountain than to reach the top. 

Sometimes changes in moods or quick outbursts can also be a sign of an underlying injury or a need that kids are not able to express or pinpoint. So pay attention and ask your kids to show or communicate what hurts. 


Bring Water and Snacks

High-calorie snacks will give everyone the energy they need to enjoy new outdoor activities. Pack enough water and snacks for your adventure. Let kids be in charge of their own needs, so teach them to drink when they’re thirsty and to choose their own snacks. 

Carrying water is also helpful because water can be used to clean any potential scrapes or cuts kids may come across. The pressure from a water bottle with a nozzle can be used to rinse out dirt and debris which prevents bacterial infection. 


Nature as a Classroom 

Lastly, this is an opportunity to take a break from the every day and to explore a new environment, so let’s celebrate it. 

  • Encourage your kids to lead the way and ask open-ended questions about what they are experiencing. This teaches transferable leadership skills and develops confidence and fun outside. 
  • Adults can model good behavior by following “Leave No Trace Behind” or “Pack it In/ Pack it Out” mantras. We want to leave the land as it was when we entered and this can be a valuable lesson in nurturing early stewardship. 
  • Stick to the trails and pathways and teach kids to respect park rules. Paths are there for a reason. It’s also a good way to prevent accidents, exposure to poisonous plants, and interactions with wild animals. 

The unexpected can happen outdoors, but it shouldn’t stop us from exploring the beauty of nature with our kids. 


Seeking advice to prepare for your next adventure? Get wilderness medical knowledge tailored to your outdoor interests at or download the App.  


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Photos by Jessica Human


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