Raising An Outside Kid
Raising an outside kid is all about teaching your little ones to appreciate the natural world around them. Outside kids are imaginative, healthy and understand the importance of treating our environment with respect.
The Dream Trip
Multi-sport athlete Braden Currie and his wife Sally are passionate about helping their kids live an active life, close to nature. In the ‘Dream Trip’, the Curries go on a backcountry adventure with their two kids, Bella and Tarn up to Siberia Hut in Mt Aspiring National Park.
The Curries’ trip is the culmination of years of outdoor experience. If you’re a parent new to it all, we’d love to help you get started on the journey. We spoke to parents about their tips to get kids loving the outdoors. Here are their recommendations:
1. Lead By Example
If you want your kids to be outside kids then you need to lead by example. Kids take in a lot more than we know and if they see you enjoying being outside, they are going to want to do what you do.
2. Start Small
A slow, gentle introduction to the outdoors works best, and you can step it up from there. The goal is to make your little ones fall in love with the outdoors, not look at it as a chore or punishment.
“We went on a 1km walk the first time we had our daughter in her carrier and then gradually stepped it up and now she loves it and is happy to be in there for hours.” Tim Frawley, Photographer
To start, choose trails you’re familiar with, close to home. Do the trails have something you know your kids will love – such as interesting bird life, great views or a local swimming hole?
3. Get Them Involved
“I really enjoy the kids being a big part of the planning process and feeling involved in the whole thing – knowing where they are going and packing their own gear.” – Sally Currie
Your kids will have a better outdoor experience if they feel part of the process. Get them to pick the hike, pack their own gear and make decisions about what food to bring. If you’re camping, let them help with the cooking or cleaning too – it goes a long way to their independence.
4. Good Gear Is A Great Idea
Before you set out on your debut outdoor experience with the kids – however short or local it maybe – make sure they’re well prepared for the adventures that lay ahead. For instance, having the right footwear or layers will make a huge difference to the kids’ enjoyment factor.
If you have little ones – still in a carrier – make sure you do a test run with it beforehand. It’s different to just carrying a backpack – so there will be adjustment time for both you and your child.
Finally, help your little ones get more familiar with the gear. While we’re in lockdown, for example, this may mean embracing backyard camping – it’s a great way to test the gear and “outdoor” experiences in a safe environment.
4. Have Fun & Be Ready To Fail
From a kids perspective, ‘a long walk in the bush’ may sound like a bit of a snooze. So think about how you can adjust the way you pitch it. A ‘wilderness adventure’, or a ‘mountain quest’ sounds a lot more enticing to young, imaginative minds than a ‘long walk in the bush’. You’re the architect of this adventure, so get creative and take your kids on a journey they’ll never forget!
“Probably the biggest thing we’ve learned with kids – you can make all the plans you want, set all the goals for the trip, but you still have to remember to be really flexible, because things can change quite quickly.” – Braden Currie
But when it comes to kids, even the best-laid plans can go awry. Little legs will get tired a lot quicker than yours will – so remember to be flexible and call it a day when you need to.
4. Make It A Habit
“The absolute key for them in getting the most out of their learning day, is to start the day outside. It might only be a short walk, but it brings both our kids to life.” – Braden Currie
Once you do it the first time, every subsequent outing will be easier. If you don’t have hours to spare just go outside for a little while and get some fresh air together. Over time your kids won’t just love being outside but they’ll associate the outdoors with fun and spending time with their parents.
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