How to Introduce Your Kids to the Outdoors | Rocky Mountain Health Plans Blog



Helping Children Fall in Love with Being Outside

Do you love being outside? 

Would it be great if the kids in your life could share that love with you? 

If you happily answered, “Yes, of course!” to these questions, it’s time to help your children, grandchildren, or friends’ children discover the beauty of Mother Nature. The key is to ensure they stay comfortable while having a great time, but sometimes that can be easier said than done. If you’re up for a fun challenge, here’s how to help the kids in your life develop a lifelong love of the outdoors.

First, locate your patience

Kids are, well, kids. They can be messy, unpredictable, and moody… and much of the time, they simply can’t help it. Children don’t have the emotional awareness of adults, so it’s up to you to brave the tantrums and tears. Before you head out on a hike or camping trip, spend some time thinking about what you’ll do in the event of a meltdown. It might sound corny, but visualize yourself keeping a level head, no matter what. 

Taking children outdoors won’t always be fun, but it will definitely be worthwhile. 

Start small when taking kids on camping and hiking trips

If you have big dreams of backpacking the entire Colorado Trail with your 9-year old, it’s time to choose a more realistic expedition. 

Start small and work your way up instead. An overnight camping trip to a local campground will give you plenty of time to make s’mores and marvel at the stars, and there will be fewer opportunities for those aforementioned meltdowns. Once the little ones in your life are comfortable with these shorter trips, try slowly adding more time, distance, and difficulty into future outings. 

Let go of any expectations about children and outdoor recreation

This one ties into both of the above points, but keeping your expectations in check will help everyone have a better time. Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. That summit isn’t going anywhere, and kids will love returning to a place to “conquer” more distance as they get stronger. 

Spend time getting to know nature at home

When talking about ways to get kids to love being outside, we often forget about small things that can be done at home. After all, fostering a deep connection with nature is something that can be done anywhere, not only while you’re out hiking, camping, and biking. Here are some simple ideas you can try today: 

  • Grow an herb or vegetable garden together.
  • Identify trees, flowers, and other plants that grow in your neighborhood.
  • Buy some binoculars and go bird watching.
  • Spend as much time outdoors as possible. For example, have dinner outside or do homework in the yard.
  • Visit a local farm to learn more about where our food comes from.
  • Use leaves, branches, and other items that you find outside for arts and crafts.
  • Read books about nature and being outside. 

There are so many ways you can introduce kids to the outdoors, but no matter how you choose to do it, make sure you also talk about it! Get young minds excited by showing that nature isn’t just fun to explore, it’s also fun to relive memories with their favorite people.