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How to get the kids interested in outdoor activities

Written by Fiona

April 11 2019

Spring has arrived and many people will be looking forward to outdoor activities during the warmer months. Many parents will be keen to get the kids outdoors and enjoying a range of healthy pursuits. But what if your kids are reluctant to spend time outdoors? This article suggests some helpful tips and tricks for family outdoor fun.

Let them choose

Ask kids what they would like to do in the outdoors. Show them a list of exciting sounding activities. See 12 great family activities for the summer holidays.

You could suggest a few ideas like trig bagging or looking for treasure on a geotour cache outing. Perhaps they would like to go to a forest playpark, try a zipwire or learn how to sail a dinghy.

In this way, they will be thinking about what they would like to do, rather than you planning something for them and expecting them to like it.

If you have more than one child, they can take it in turns to choose an activity to try.

Be more bespoke

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the idea of letting children run wild and free without a set plan. Rather than making a detailed plan of action, or cramming the day with set activities, why not head to a safe outdoors environment and allow the children to do a bit of what they fancy?

Go to a local woodlands, a park or a loch shore and let the kids roam free. If you allow them to use their imaginations, the chances are they will have a lot of fun. Another tip is to invite a few of their friends as well.

We’ll bet they end up running about, climbing trees, making camps and making observations about all kinds of bits and pieces of nature.

Stories of favourite characters

Every child has a favourite character, such as Peter Rabbit, Fireman Sam, Merida from Brave, Harry Potter to Elsa. Why not base the setting of your family outdoor activities around the stories of their favourite characters, to allow them to play out some of the scenes or storylines from their favourite books, TV shows or films?

Harry Potter fans will love a trip of the Harry Potter train, the Jacobite in Scotland, while fans of Brave well enjoy a chance to give archery a go. You can even find fire engine trips for Fireman Sam fans or simply go in search of rabbits in the countryside if Peter rabbit is a character they identify with.

These fictional characters often have a huge influence on a child’s imagination and development, so it makes sense to incorporate them into your outdoor adventures too.

Are we there yet?

If you need to travel a distance to reach an outdoor activity, some kids will become bored or fidgety. To avoid this parental frustration, you’ll need some entertainment tactics for the journey.

Plan ahead by making a family playlist to sing along to, enjoy a few of the classic car games (think I-spy, 20 questions or spot the yellow car) and take some snacks for the journey.

You could even purchase a couple of new toys for the journey – something they haven’t played with before, that will keep them entertained for an hour or so. New toys don’t have to be expensive – you can easily find a good variety  of cheap toys on websites such as Whirligig Toys or Toys for a Pound, which are perfect for long car journeys.

Ask them what they enjoyed most about each activity – you’ll soon learn what they prefer to do in the outdoors, something which you can utilise in future family outings. At the end of the day, every child is different – one might be much more adventurous, whilst another might be more inquisitive, preferring a gentle activity with more in-depth exploration.

Create great memories

Make the most of each outdoor trip you share together, by creating some artistic memory logs using materials you found during your trip, as well as photographs.

Children can get involved in making these memories by picking up anything from leaves and pine cones to pebbles and feathers when enjoying trips into the great outdoors.

Of course, you’ll want to educate kids about what they can and shouldn’t remove from nature.

Make regular plans

Children like to have events to look forward to, so you should plan activities to do together for forthcoming weekends and holidays.

Let them think bigger and bigger, too. You could plan to walk to a hill summit – and then to a mountain summit.

You could learn to paddle a kayak and then plan to trip to kayak across a loch or down a river. You could build up the distance of bike rides or walks until you can complete a multi-day lost distance trail, such as one of Scotland’s Great Trails.

Spending time outdoors should be fun – and the chances are it will create great bonds between adults and kids.

All see 10 tips for successful family skiing in Scotland.

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