Raise Your Kids to Love the Outdoors

In today’s world of devices, it’s a careful balance between ensuring your child is set up for a technology-filled future without compromising a love for the outdoors. Hiking, fishing, and camping are all great ways to get them out in nature and raise conservation-conscious adults that respect the Earth.

To be sure they don’t let their love of nature fall to the wayside, you have to raise them right. This means weekends full of adventures, filled with knowledge about all things great and small. You don’t need to wait until they hit a certain age, either. You can start them as young as babies! Here’s what we do in our house.

Babywearing can begin as young as one week. As soon as mom is cleared for walks, that’s when the whole family needs to get outside. The fresh air is great for everyone, and babywearing allows you to take even the tiniest human hiking and fishing. As they get older, you can reposition them to a back carry so they can watch their surroundings. Many sporting goods companies offer backpack carrier hiking packs that are fantastic for long hikes and will keep your toddler safe and sound. All of my kids have taken long naps in my Deuter Kid 2 while I navigated trails or fished for bass and crappie.

Once they are old enough to interact with their surroundings, let them get dirty. Shying away from mud-filled afternoons and piles of leaves isn’t doing them any good. A little dirt never hurts anyone, and the more you let them explore, the more they’ll be excited about nature. Of course, you need to ensure they have sun and bug protection, but there are great options on the market that are perfectly safe. Just ask your pediatrician for recommendations.

If they can walk, they can fish. Even children as young as two can hold a pole and take part in the excitement of reeling in a catch. By three, with practice, they can even handle an open face reel on a decent-sized rod! My daughter did exactly that last weekend, all on her own. Most children shy away from the worms or wiggly fish, but that’s because they haven’t been exposed to them often. The more exposure, the better.

Once they hit preschool age, you might think they must be confined to four walls and a desk or round carpet, but this isn’t true. There are many schools out there that focus on being outside during the preschool programs. My youngest goes to a preschool with an outdoor classroom, and they stay outside rain or shine, learning about everything nature-related. Sure, she comes home filthy every day, but the smile on her face is worth it!

As for camping and hiking, young kids make the best adventure buddies. They are so excited about everything, from tiny leaves to giant boulders, that it makes you want to go again and again. This is way better than turning on one more episode of their favorite show. As they grow up, they’ll be the ones trying to drag you out of the house! All of this also adds up to fantastic bonding time, and you can’t ask for a better kid than one who wants to spend time outside with you!