Celebrating the Great Outdoors
So often, when our kids hear the word “vacation,” their thoughts turn to amusement parks, mini-golf, water slides, and gift shops. Yet, the summer months represent the ideal time to introduce kids to an entirely different type of vacation fun – the great outdoors. Whether for a series of afternoon excursions or weekend trip, spending time camping, hiking, and exploring nature helps families unplug from their hectic lives, reconnect with one another, as well as enjoy a more cost-effective vacation experience. I’ve included my favorite outdoor tips for families here.
- Go Local: State parks offer families a great introduction to outdoor experiences with affordable campsites, family-friendly nature trails, and lake and river access for some. These parks have websites that share details and logistics for easy trip-planning and feature knowledgeable park rangers who can provide insider tips.
- Start Small: If this summer represents your family’s first foray into outdoor exploration, don’t feel the need to plan an Everest assault. Find relatively flat hiking trails that offer moderate terrain with great picnic spots and end-of-the hike swimming or ice cream options nearby.
- Let Kids Lead: To keep kids from lagging behind on family hikes and to prevent endless cries of, “How much farther?” – encourage them to lead the way. Arm them with an easy-to-read compass, show them how to read the color-coded trail-marking system, and watch them take off!
Consider a Camp-Out: While a night under the stars can be a wonderful way to build family memories, camping trips can sometimes appear intimidating to the uninitiated. First-time campers can enjoy their natural surroundings with these beginner tips:
- Start with an overnight trip to test the waters, or book a site for two nights and extend the stay if the kids emerge in the morning as camping naturals.
- Consider borrowing tents, sleeping bags, and other supplies from friends, or even renting from an outdoor store, to keep first-time costs down.
- Find a site where you can park your car near your camp site to avoid dragging gear too far and starting off the trip exhausted.
- Plan low-key, kid-friendly meals – hot dogs, fruit, s’mores – to make dinner over an open fire that much easier.
- Have a low threshold for cancelling the trip if the weather looks suspect. A water-logged weekend never bodes well for a return trip!
Plan Ahead: A little advanced planning can increase the enjoyment factor of your next outdoor excursion by leaps and bounds. Before leaving the house, don’t forget to pack a bag or backpack with the following supplies:
- First-aid kit
- Sunscreen and insect repellent
- Change of clothes for younger kids, including socks
- Emergency portable snacks – breakfast bars and trail mix
- Extra water
- Wet Ones® Antibacterial Wipes in singles or travel packs to clean bacteria and food messes on hands while on the go
- Rain gear
- Multi-function pocket knife
Disclosure: Wet Ones® brand is a client of Mom Central Consulting, and Stacy DeBroff is serving as a Wet Ones® brand spokesperson