How to Raise Outdoor Kids
Raising kids that love spending time outside and in nature isn’t an easy feat these days. With so many day-to-day commitments and distractions, time outside is no longer a priority for most families. Here in North America, children spend the majority of their day indoors, and all this inside time is resulting is plenty of problems for our kids.1 Kids need plenty of time outside to be healthy and happy. Spending time outside protects children from developing chronic health issues like obesity, asthma, allergies and diabetes.2 It makes kids stronger, physically and mentally, more resilient, creative and better at solving problems. It even makes kids smarter!
So how do we raise kids that love being outside in today’s culture? Kids need more than Scouts, Girl Guides, after-school nature programs or week long summer camps to truly connect with nature (although these are a great learning opportunities!) . Kids need to be surrounded by a community of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and educators that loves getting outside with them!
It takes a village to raise an outdoor child -Linda Åkeson McGurk
What if that kind of community doesn’t exist where you live? Then create it! Make your very own Family Nature Club.
What is a Family Nature Club?
A Family Nature Club is a group of families that get outside on a regular basis to enjoy nature together. The idea initially came from Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. In his book he wrote:
What if parents, grandparents, and kids around the country were to band together to create nature clubs for families? What if this new form of social/nature networking were to spread as quickly as book clubs and Neighborhood Watches did in recent decades? We would be well on our way to true cultural change.
A Family Nature Club is a great way to find your tribe, make new friends, share knowledge, get motivated and stay active.
Start a Family Nature Club in 3 Easy Steps
Starting a Family Nature Club is easy, fun and anyone can do it. Yes you can do it too!
1. Make a Plan
The first step is to start dreaming and planning. What kind of Family Nature Club do you want to start? Your club could be about unstructured play in the wild or it could be goal orientated with specific hiking adventures. Family Nature Clubs can be small private groups or large and open to the public.
It’s also important to think about when and how often you’d like your club to meet (weekends, weekdays, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly). For public groups you may want to have a photo release form and a liability waiver. And don’t forget to pick a name for your club!
Here is a list of Family Nature Club ideas:
- Free unstructured play in nature
- Nature walks
- Hiking adventures
- Backcountry backpacking
- Rock hounding
- Rock climbing or bouldering
- Mountain biking
- Skiing or snow shoeing
- Surfing or snorkeling
- Canoeing or kayaking or sailing
- Fishing trips
- Camping adventures
- Plant identification
- Studying bugs and insects
- Learning survival skills
- Birding or bird banding
- Neighbourhood gardening
- Organic farming
- Nature conservation projects
- Star gazing
Download a FREE PDF: Family Nature Club – 20 Fun Ideas.
2. Find a Location
Once you’ve decided on the purpose and plan of your club the next step is to find a location. Scouting out locations is a good idea. You want to make sure the area(s) you choose will work well for a meeting place.
A few things to think about:
- How long does it take to get there?
- Is there enough parking space?
- What kind of features are there? (streams, rocks, viewpoints)
- Is the space large enough for your group?
- Do you need permission to use the space?
- Are there any facilities? (toilet, outhouse, potable water, shelter)
- What kind of gear and clothes are needed for the area?
3. Invite families
You’ve got a plan and a location – well done! Now you can invite families to join your club. Invite your friends, extended family, friends from your child’s school, church or even a Facebook group. Start small or go big. Collect emails from interested families and send them a write up describing your Family Nature Club and all the necessary meeting details.
You can even create a Meetup, private Facebook group or even a blog for your group. Don’t forget to remind parents that this is a family affair (not a drop off situation) and that parents are responsible for taking care of their own children.
Your First Time Out
It’s normal to feel a little nervous and really excited about your first time out. I sure did. It helps to arrive a little early and to go over some basic guidelines with your group before setting out. If your group is small and with friends this could be a simple as saying hello and letting everyone know the plan for your adventure.
Your Very Own Family Nature Club
I would love to hear about your Family Nature Club. Feel free to tell me about it in the comment section below, by sending me an email (contact me) or by joining our Facebook Group: Raising Outdoor Kids.
More Great Resources
Unplugged: 15 Steps to Disconnect from Technology and Reconnect with Nature, Yourself, Friends, and Family – A great book about starting and running a Family Nature Club. This book is packed with great ideas, tips and wisdom (a must read!).
Child & Nature Network: Nature Clubs for Families Tool Kit – A FREE PDF with tips, tools and ideas for starting a Family Nature Clubs. A great resource. Available in multiple languages.
Raising Outdoor Kids Facebook Group
Looking for more ideas, support and inspiration for raising outdoor kids? Come are join our Facebook community: Raising Outdoor Kids.
- Directly measured physical activity of children and youth, 2012 and 2013.
- Let Them Eat Dirt: How Microbes Can Make Your Child Healthier by
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