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Challenge: Walking the Talk

How to get your family out in nature and beyond your own backyard

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Are you on Instagram? Do you see beautiful photos of outdoor enthusiasts getting their children into the woods? On a beautiful day are you sitting in your living room while your children play with toys? Are you too overwhelmed when thinking of getting them out into nature? I understand. It takes work, organization, and patience on the parents side. But, you will benefit too! Instead of sitting inside or out in your yard on a gorgeous day, you could be out on a mini adventure with your kids. You could be instilling in them a life-long love of nature.


“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”
Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

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Doesn't that sound beautiful? Want to pull yourself and your kids away from hand-held devices, television, and the same old toys? Head to your local trails today!

Ok parents, here's what you will need to pack in your backpack to make this easy and fun!

*Water bottle

*Snacks (easy things like apples, nuts, granola bars, sandwiches)

*Pad of paper and pens/colored pencils for map making & drawing

*Compass (even more fun if you have one for the kids too. You can find cheap ones on orientaltrading.com)

*Natural bug spray for months that the bugs are out

*Mini books. We love mini books on: trees, birds, wildflowers, butterflies, local animals

*Little brown bags or any type of small bags that kids can collect rocks, sticks, leaves, etc in

*Make sure you dress kids for the weather. Dressing in layers is the best thing to do. That way they can layer down if it warms up as they hike and play. Good shoes are also a must. Kids simply cannot hike or climb trees in sandals or flimsy shoes. Tennis shoes, hiking boots, or soft sole shoes are best!



That's it! If you have kids who are willing and able to carry their own things they could bring these same items and things my kids usually include are:

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*small lightweight blanket for little picnics

*another water bottle (sometimes we are in the woods or on the trail for hours)

*kid camera

*binoculars

*more snacks (hungry kids are not happy hikers!)

*small toys. (small animals for creating small worlds. small sand toys if there is sand/dirt on the trail)

*jars with lids for collecting nature items/bugs

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Now what do you do?

Start small. Start in the morning after your kids have had a big, healthy breakfast and are full of energy. Choose an easy trail or nature area close to home. It doesn't have to be anything too wild! Anywhere that has a bit of small woods to play in or a short trail. Make it fun when you get there! Your enthusiasm will spread to them. Don't expect kids under 5 to just hit a trail and hike. They like to walk, stop and look at things, and stop to play in the woods. Let them be the leaders! Sing songs! Make up magical stories about forest fairies, trolls and more. And please don't have high expectations. Some children have been hiking and playing in nature since birth so they can go an entire day until dark hiking and exploring nature. If this is your first time, take it slow! Small kids will get tired. They will whine.They might cry when they get wet and muddy in the creek (bring extra clothes). They might not know what to "do" in the woods at first if they have never done this.


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Keep up your enthusiasm. Kids feel your energy. Start small. 30 minutes, then an hour and soon enough if it's really in their souls they will spend hours outside playing without you having to direct anything. Why do my kids love our adventures in nature? Because I do. They see my excitement and my joy and it spills over to their hearts. Also, I have been getting them out like this starting when my daughter was 2 years old. She turns 6 next week. My 3 year-old son has been dong this since birth. My late husband would carry him in the baby carrier until his little feet were ready to hit the trail solo.


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Get out there where joy still exists and magic is on the breeze. Go out beyond your own backyard and beyond the local playground. Everyone loves their backyard and it is also wonderful for playing at home and having friends over. My kids love a good playground as much as the next kid, but a playground is all laid out for you. Out in nature you have to use your imagination. A tree is a climbing pole. A chunk of ice is a slide. The pile of logs and debris is a spy lab. There is so much for children to learn about themselves out there in the woods.


Now? Go.



“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist.”
Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder


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