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Kids In The Outdoors - OutdoorPlaces.Com

 We're Three Miles From The Trailhead, The Kids Have Had It, Now What?

This is the worst dilemma a parent can face.  When a child has, "had it," there is no logic or reasoning with them.  An exhausted eight year-old does not care about spending the night in the woods, all they care about is stopping.  The first thing you can do is take their pack.  You can carry your pack plus your child's, readjusting the straps so your pack is on your back, and you child's is on your chest.  In the absolute worst case scenario, you may have to carry your child for a while.  Distance heat and boredom can take their toll on young travelers.  The most important thing, don't let it get to this point - which due to variables like the weather and injury, can make things very difficult.

 How Can I Compromise?

There are a number of things you can do to make the overall experience better for your children.  Set rewards for reaching your daily goal, or do fun activity during your trip.  If your visiting Yellowstone National Park, endure the crowds at Old Faithful to give your children a thrill.  Then go on that backcountry hike in geyser country.  When the child can stand closer in solitude to see a geyser go off, they appreciate the hike even more.  Acknowledge your child's accomplishments at the end of the day.  Show them on a map how far you have gone.  They will have an incredible appreciation for the time and distance they covered.

 We've Tried All Off This, Our Children Are Still Miserable

The sad fact may be if you have tried everything is your children just may not like being in the wilderness.  Approximately 40 million people today participate in camping, which is one of the top ten exercise mediums in the country.  That leaves a lot of the population that doesn't.  If your children are miserable on your outdoor adventures, you might want to seriously think about leaving them with a relative when you go on your trips.  The worst thing you can do is force them to participate, because you can scar their attitudes on the outdoors forever at an earlier age.

 The United States National Park System's Junior Ranger Program


The United States National Park System has a program for children ages four to fourteen they call the Junior Ranger Program.  Almost every National Park, and some National Monuments participate.  Visit any ranger station and ask to sign up your child(ren).  Your child(ren) will be given specific activities to perform through the day on their own geared towards their specific age group.  Most programs require sitting through at least one ranger led program, which at most parks are of excellent quality.  Believe it or not, picking up trash, which is typically one of the requirements, is one of the most popular activities for children who will eagerly compete over who can find the most trash, and they provide a valuable service at the same time.  The Junior Ranger Program is free and includes a certificate of completion, although some parks do require a minimal fee of one too two dollars to get a patch when the program is completed.


Children can have a wonderful time in the outdoors filled with cherished memories of wonderful sights and time with their family.  A little careful planning, proper selection of equipment, and realistic expectations all make for an easier time in the outdoors.  Realize you will have to travel at a slower pace and will not cover as much distance with a child as you would with a group of adults.  Make sure your child has quality, comfortable, and well fitting footwear.  Try to do fun things on your outdoor adventures and plan things around your children.  Don't get frustrated with their shortcomings in the field, and let them know when they are doing a good job.  By following these simple steps and ideas, your children will have a wonderful time in the great outdoors.

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