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Outdoor activities with kids can be fun! Choose from nature walks for kids, trekking in India or camping with children!
By Melanie Lobo
Lying in a tent and looking up at the stars at night, eating dinner around a camp fire…these sound like lines out of a storybook. However, you can make this a reality for yourself and your children. Many parents are now traveling with kids around the world outside and getting into outdoor activities with kids. Here are some tips if you (literally) want to walk down that path as well!
Exploring the outdoors with children is a great way to introduce them to nature as well as to spend time together as a family. For young children you can start off with something simple like nature walks. Shuchita Singh Basu, an HR professional in Pune says, “The best time to start exploring or thinking of outdoor activities with kids is as soon your child learns to walk.” She adds, “I did it with my own son and used to take him for walks and point out various trees, plants, leaves and so on along the way.”
Exploring the outdoors with children is a great way to introduce them to nature as well as to spend time together as a family.
Her son started enjoying the walks and soon it became a way of learning about nature as well as a time to play. Shuchita and her son would play make believe games; they would collect stones and pretend they were diamonds and so on. “You just have to make it interesting for them. Kids are naturally curious. Tap into that curiosity and harness it,” she suggests. If you are unable to take nature walks with your kids, take them to the botanical gardens or a park or even on a picnic to the zoo.
As your children grow, you can start taking them on camping trips. Several organizations (Acquaterra Adventures, Countryside Adventure Holidays, Pugmarks Holidays) offer such trips which you can go on with children – either as part of a group or with friends and family. Here are some points you should keep in mind while camping with children:
– If your children are very young, be sure to carry along a favourite toy or blanket to make them feel more secure in an unfamiliar environment.
– Carry a change of clothes – at least one change is essential. Also have tissues and toilet paper handy.
– Pack plenty of snacks and drinks for your kids.
– A basic first aid kit which contains essentials such as band aids, Dettol and antiseptic cream is important.
– A mosquito repellent and any kind of insect protection lotion.
– Calamine lotion to soothe bites.
– Salt – to get the leeches off.
– Tweezers to remove splinters, needles or even ticks
– Appropriate footwear and clothes depending on where you are going.
Trekking with kids will make both you and your child active and healthy! Do keep these safety precautions in mind:
– Ensure that children are always within earshot and eyesight. As children grow, they may be tempted to wander off on their own. Ensure that this does not happen.
– Stay away from ledges. Do not let children peer down from the edge of a mountain simply because the view is so beautiful. Rocks can slip and fall at any time.
– Remind children to stay close to the path. Experts advise that children who stray should be told to hug a tree. This helps the child to stay in one place and makes it easier to find him/her in the eventuality of the child getting lost.
– Show the children plants they should stay away from – like stinging nettle for instance.
Dilys Nath, a teacher in Mussoorie and mother of two simply loves taking her children on treks and hikes. She started introducing her children to outdoor activities when they were toddlers. Initially, like Shuchita she involved them in nature walks but as they grew, she started taking them on hikes and camping. Her advice to parents is to make the trip enjoyable and fun.
Do remember that children do not always have the energy to keep up with adults. Stick to a pace that is comfortable for them…
Dilys remembers building a bonfire and making sausages over it and even cooking Maggi. She states, “Get the children involved in what you are doing. Get them to gather the twigs and dry leaves for the bonfire.” Where food is concerned she suggests taking plenty of water as it is not advisable to drink water from any source you might find along the way, dry foods like bread, butter, cheese, jam, hard boiled eggs, tinned foods, chocolate and even dry fruits – they are good as emergency rations. Another must is a waterproof jacket/rainwear as well as a waterproof sheet. “Always carry something warm as well. It might be very hot in the day but chilly at night,” she concludes.
Do remember that children do not always have the energy to keep up with adults. Stick to a pace that is comfortable for them and be sure to take frequent breaks too. Encourage your children not to exhaust themselves early on in the hike. Remember that the journey and not the destination is important. There is so much you can point out to them on the trek/hike – different animals, birds, flora and fauna. Let them feel and touch the things around them and truly learn to enjoy the outdoors. Carry along a magnifying glass, a bug box and let them see nature up close. Turn your outdoor activities with kids into an adventure and you will have made them outdoor enthusiasts for life.
*Photo credit: Hamilton Conservation Authority (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
Melanie Lobo is a freelance writer. She grew up in cities across India but now
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