Getting Started - Tips for Successful Outings

Share great tips for making a family's first outdoor outing - whether it's backpacking, paddling, or a simple walk in the local park - educational, safe, and fun.


October 9, 2017
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Travelling with school age children

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November 28, 2017
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August 5, 2013
Averting meltdown - 3 tips from a developmental psychologist


1.  Lower your expectations by 1/2 to  1/3 when planning. Kids' brains send signals of both joy and unhappiness within shorter time frames and after less effort than do adults' brains. Plan accordingly.

2. A terrific nutrition researcher colleague once said "sugar is an analgesic." Recent findings suggest she's not off-base-- sucrose may actually blunt children's experience of mild pain and discomfort. The suprise and pleasure of a can of Coke in the wilderness can avert meltdown.

3. Framing: We remember past events by how we tell the stories of triumph and tribulation, afterwards. No one is perfect, and everyone (including me) is likely to have a meltdown at some point on a trip. Re-frame those episodes as "minor mishaps"  rather than tragic dramas - everyone will remember those trips as "best times ever." 

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May 15, 2012
Ideas for fun on the trail
  1. My 2-year-old loves throwing rocks in the water, especially off bridges. If your kids haven't discovered this yet, it is 10-15 minutes of non-stop concentrated fun activity. A bridge, stream, pond or puddle all work.
  2. I try to point out birds and what kind of birds they are (I'm not much of a bird-watcher). Occasionally we can see into ponds and streams with fish, which he also enjoys seeing.
  3. In Maine we have a tradition of "fairy houses" which one will find along the trail in places. Kids make small shelters (4-12 inches high typically) out of the natural materials in the immediate vicinity.



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May 24, 2017
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September 7, 2012
What are your best ideas for outdoor fun?

Kids Outdoors blogger Heather Stephenson recently posted ten easy outdoor activities with kids. What are your best ideas?

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