How To Plan Your First Outdoor Adventure As A Family With Kids

How To Plan Your First Outdoor Adventure As A Family With Kids

Nighoj is famous for potholes created by a rapidly flowing Kukadi river. It is a unique geological wonder and attracts visitors from nearby cities and towns. The river flows through the canyon with a great force forming circular pot-like shapes in the rock.
One summer, we decided to take Rian, my nephew age five, to see the potholes and have a riverside picnic.
It was his first outdoor adventure as a family beyond the local park, and he constantly asked questions about what he saw as we drove.
When we stopped for tea in a village, Rian ran behind a brood of some hens and chicks he saw strutting around the tea seller’s yard. He excitedly kept calling them ‘Chicken Little’ from the popular cartoon he had recently seen.
As we approached Nighoj, we passed through an area with banana plantations and stopped to let him get a closer look. He loved to eat ripe yellow bananas his mother bought from the vendor, so we thought it would be great for him to see the plant.
When we pointed out the green bunch of about a hundred bananas on the stalk, he simply failed to see it. “Where are the bananas? I don’t see them.”, he kept saying until, with the farmer’s permission, we took him right up to the stalk and got him to touch the unripe fruit.
He never imagined that bananas would be green before they turned yellow and gazed in wonder at the bunch.
That day, he got a ‘fruitful’ lesson in how things grow and ripen for consumption. It was a novelty to him that his bananas came from a plantation like this. And that they did not grow as a bunch of precisely six bananas as he had seen at the fruit mart.
The rest of our outing passed in more curious questions and discoveries about weathering and pothole formation.
It was one of the most eye-opening trips for us as much as it was for him.

Learning closer to the source directly impacts how children perceive and sense things. It contributes a lot to the development of their senses.
You should enthusiastically consider taking your child outdoors.
Here is a step-by-step friction less guide to ease you into planning your first outdoor adventure as a family with kids.

Choose Child-friendly Routes and Destinations.

Local trails, hikes and nature walks are great starting points for introducing your child to the outdoors. It need not be an uncomfortable experience for any of you.
Here is what you should look for to narrow down child-friendly trails and destinations:
  • Access: Find a place with easy access to the start point so you do not have a long commute to get there and back. The journey itself might tire you all.
  • Duration: Opt for a short duration activity, no more than 4 hours to and fro for your first. Work on getting it right before taking a longer leap.
  • Interests: See if the search mentions local flora and fauna and a chance of seeing small wild animals. That’ll be an added attraction for your child.
  • Habitation: Look for nature walks and routes close to villages to ensure you get a well-marked and well-trodden trail.
  • Safety: Having habitation nearby also ensures timely help if required.
  • Ease: Hikes near settlements are where cattle herders go. These routes are usually easier, shorter and flatter. And if you ever stray, a cowherd is a sharp whistle away.
  • Wildlife: Check if the trails have well-documented bird and insect life that might interest you and your child.
  • Pilgrimage: India has many places in relative wilderness for pilgrims to go worship. Given the amenities and popularity, these can be an excellent place to start. If you want to avoid crowds, steer clear.
  • Amenities: When testing things outdoors for the first time as a family, keep fallback options if you need to bail out.
    1.  Check if restrooms are mentioned or provisioned. If not, be ready to ‘go’ behind a bush.
    2.  Trails with designated picnic areas indicate that the trail is popular and well-maintained.
    3. Popular hiking spots have small food kiosks or locals serving home-based food near the start point. You can have your meals locally and travel light with snacks and water. Speak to them and arrange the meals before you start.
    4. Villagers and residents are tuned to the hiker’s needs. They are happy to guide you up, provide food or carry loads for a fee.
    5. Guides are friendly and go out of their way to accommodate your needs – stopping to show you birds, a nice picnic spot, or clicking pictures for your family.

Finalise a route and get ready to pack for your big day.

What Essential Gear and Supplies to Pack?

Here is a list of essential gear that you should carry with you for a day’s walk or hike:
    1. Water – 1.5 litres per person
    2. Sun caps for all
    3. Sunglasses
    4. Insect repellent
    5. Sunscreen
    6. Windcheaters/breakers that double up as light rain jackets.
    7. Basic First Aid Kit
    8. Kid friendly Snacks / Picnic
    9. Change of clothing for the children.
    10. Your cell phones
    11. Wet wipes
    12. Napkins

And an additional list of items that you should have when you are taking your child along:

    1. Child Carriers: Consider taking a baby carrier backpack if your child is a toddler. It gives the child weather protection and is the most efficient way to carry them comfortably. Often kids get tired or sleepy and need to be carried safely. A carrier sack comes in handy. Practice with it before you go. Here is a sturdy tested brand.
    2. Preferred snacks: Carry snacks that your child eats without fuss. Pack dry fruits, fruits, or chocolate so they don’t go hungry. For children who prefer milk or other beverages, you might want to carry milk powder to mix in water or packaged fruit beverages. Keep them hydrated.
    3. Protection: Irrespective of weather conditions, carry a windbreaker or warm wear for your kid. If it rains or gets windy, that might be their best protection. Kids get cold faster than you think
 All your gear must be oriented towards your and your child’s comfort and safety on your first outdoor adventure with kids.

Timing and Duration

  • Plan small duration: For the first outing with your kid, plan something not more than four hours long. You don’t know how you work together as a family. Take a small bite and execute the first outing well to see how your child adapts.
  • Wakeful Times: Start when your child is fully awake and far from sleep time. If they wake up late in the day, start then. They are awake when you are actually on the hike.
  • Attention and Engagement: On the hike, show them things matching their attention spans and energy levels. Butterflies may be too fast or uninteresting for the child to look at. But a beautiful flower or a fascinating plant with strangely shaped or colourful leaves, maybe something that they would love. Hand them a feather or a stick to carry.
  • Weather: Before you go, check the weather so that you have appropriate protection. More water, if it is hot. Layers of warm clothing it is rainy or cold – are simple thumb rules.

Safety Measures and Outdoor Behaviour

  • Do not expose your child to strange water sources, which you may look ok to drink from. The mineral-filled water from a stream may be pure but hard for a child to digest.
  • Through your action, teach your child the importance of not littering and carrying your waste back with leaving the mountain pristine. Discipline like this starts with you, and your kid will only emulate your actions.
  • Show your children the hazards of running on rocks and wandering in an unknown direction. Help them process the rules so that they can enjoy the outdoors responsibly while respecting nature.
  • In Indian villages, typically on trek routes, stray dogs are always accompanying you. Most of them are harmless, and showing kindness to these dogs is essential. It will banish the fear of dogs from your child’s mind, and they will make a furry friend.

Engaging Activities for Children

  • Embrace a slow pace and take time to show birds, insects, and flowers to keep children engaged and curious.
  • Allow children to investigate interesting sights, stop, and ask questions.
  • Encourage them to gather leaves, feathers, and pine cones that have fallen off.
  • You might love the solitary walk but remember the kids will soon be bored if walking and looking around is all you are doing.
  • Try small games like counting all the red flowers you see or how many pine cones you passed.
  • If your child is slightly older and interested in birds, carry a birding book to spot and identify birds. Pack a binocular in that case.

Encourage Independence

Once you have done a few activities as a family, allow your kids to take small independent steps.
  • Let them pick their snacks for the hike and walk short distances with you watching.
  • Help them learn to navigate and encourage them to think independently, correcting and guiding them in close range.
  • Build a bond based on trust.
  • Be patient as your child processes their newly acquired outdoor skills.

Capture Memories On Their First Outdoor Adventure

  • Bring a camera or smartphone to capture the special moments of your child’s first outdoor adventures.
  • Let them operate the camera and capture things from their perspective. It may not be perfect but trust them to make their memories.
  • Get them a nature journal or scrapbook to document each hike and discovery. Arranging photos and sticking things they brought back from their first adventure get their buy-in for the next.

Progressing To Longer And Harder Activities

Once you’ve had a good few hikes, try and attempt your first overnight trek, where you can stay in a tent or a cabin.
  • Once they are comfortable with an overnight adventure and show no signs of discomfort with an outdoor toilet, being dirty, or not having access to their toys and TV, you can plan for a longer time outdoors.
  • Plan a campfire experience that is second to none.
  • You can graduate to other activities like trekking, kayaking, and rock climbing that you can enjoy with kids.
  • Some of these activities need the help of export operators, so make sure they have equipment for children – life jackets, climbing shoes or helmets that fit.

Nurturing a Lifelong Love for Nature

Taking children on their first outdoor adventure will lay the foundation for lifelong love and respect for nature.
It is something we are losing fast to global warming, changes in weather, and natural disasters.The faster you expose your kids to what needs saving, there is a chance that they will enjoy and protect the benefits of nature for a long time to come.
Most kids I know are thrilled to be outdoors. I was one of them. They want to know how the wild grass, the soil, and the gravel feel and sound underfoot.
There is a lot in the outdoors that can keep the kids engaged. The screen-free environment is great for their physical development.
Their first outdoor adventure exposes them to different environments and temperatures, building resilience. It stokes their curiosity enough to develop their knowledge.
Let kids be themselves how nature intended them to be.

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