Sometimes kids just need a little motivation to get outdoors. Whether your child is new to exploring, or an avid adventurer, they should have an adventure pack that spurs curiosity, imagination and exploration. Several years ago, my son received a backpack that was just his size for Christmas. It was just the encouragement he needed to get out the door and head into "the wilds" of our backyard. We would often see him headed out to a wooded area of yard, with his backpack and boots on, eager to be outside, no matter the weather. He built Lego boats to test out, hunted for frogs - and much to my chagrin - often came back with tales of snake sightings. Sometimes we just need a little push to embrace the adventurer in all of us. By having the right equipment, our children can start to identify themselves as one who wants to explore. Don't you feel more adventurous and confident when you are dressed the part??
Start with a small backpack that is the right size for your child. REI has some great options for younger kids. If you don't want to spend the money on a new one, check out Goodwill and thrift shops. Or, you can use an old school back pack. Another option is a drawstring bag. If you are like us, you have several already laying around the house. Personalize it by putting your child's name on it with puffy paint or permanent marker. To embrace the adventure even more - have your child choose a trail name - just like hikers do on the Appalachian Trail.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As an occupational therapist, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you some important information about children and backpacks. They should never weigh more than 10% of your child's body weight. Always use both shoulder straps and use sternum straps and hip belts, if available. (For more information on backpack safety click here)
Now that you have a backpack, add some items to promote adventure seeking. My kids have always been obsessed with watching old McGyver episodes. You know - he is the guy who could get out of any situation with a rope, a hairpin and mirror!! Our adventurers need to be prepared for any situation. Here is my suggested list of items to have in the adventure pack:
Giving our children the opportunity to be outside and explore is a huge gift that will reap many benefits, now and in the future. By giving them a backpack full of opportunity, you are giving them a sense of independence and fostering curiosity about nature. Start in your own backyard and then expand their territories to parks, streams and forests nearby. To supplement their adventurous spirit, read books that take place in the outdoors or that have adventurous characters. (By the way, this is a great birthday gift idea when you want to go beyond the usual gift card!)
Hi! I'm Ann - mother of seven, grandmother of two and occupational therapist. My mission is to provide the support families need to raise thriving children and to help you build a family environment that supports healthy development and a pathway to success.
Great blogs to check out:
Rain or Shine Mamma
Children & Nature Network
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