were small, we went on many nature walks, baby jogs, and bike rides; most trips were in
our neighborhood, at our local park, or to the river a few miles from our house. The key
for a terrific time with your toddler or preschooler: easy trips, slow pace, and flexibility!
When your child needs to eat or sleep, don't delay those vital activities.
SCHOOL AGE: BALANCE. School age children tend to be the most outgoing
and easiest to deal with. Your biggest challenge, perhaps, is balancing the goal to teach
them with their need to discover the world on their own. Like with toddlers, you want to
avoid long days and too many activities in too short of time. Stick to one activity and one
location. The main difference you will find in this age group, especially between five-
and ten-year-olds, for example, is the level of activity.
TEENAGERS: KEEP IT FUN. Teenagers can be the easiest or the most difficult
people on the planet. They are independent and may be better athletes than their parents
at certain sports. They will want to participate in some activities but not others, and they
almost always do better with friends. The list for teenagers is limited only by
imagination. It is very important for your teenager to be involved with the entire trip,
including planning, decision-making, and unpacking at the end. Pick an activity they are
interested in, perhaps something they suggest. Above all, keep it fun.
TWENTY PEARLS FOR SUCCESS
Most parents, me included, have asked themselves, "Why am I doing this?"
Parenting can be frustrating enough, without adding additional tasks of outdoor adventure
sports. I don't have a sure fire method for success in every circumstance, but I have listed
a number of tips and guidelines that work for me as well as other outdoor parents and
experts. These may not apply to every family or every situation. Remember, every child,
family, and adventure will be different.
Attitude is everything. Keep a positive attitude, even when things go awry. If you
teach them to keep spirits positive and work through tough situations, they will carry
with this lesson with them throughout their life.
Be flexible. More than once we packed for a morning hike and drove a half hour to
the trailhead, only to find that when we pull in, both girls were asleep in their car
seats. So I read a book while they napped.
Pay attention to your kids (even teenagers). The cornerstone for safety is supervision.
Have realistic goals. Goals should be obtainable and reasonable. Remember, the
ultimate goal, as far as most kids are concerned, is to have fun.
Pay attention to the level of exertion also: too much and your child will become tired
and prone to injury; too little and he or she will get bored. Plan breaks for snacks and
Teach your children about success and failure. Winning and improving is important
but so is putting out 100% effort, trying new sports or techniques, being with the
family and friends, and having fun. When asked, kids respond that they stop sports
because they are not having fun or they feel pressure from parents or coaches.
Give kids some decision making power: for young kids this means limited choices
and directed decisions. For example: "Do you want to go now or in five minutes?"
Be prepared for frustration, fear, and embarrassment. Be supportive but give your
child a chance to deal with tough times. Don't rescue your child from a fearful or
embarrassing situation, but help him or her work through it.