Teaching Kids to Love the Great Outdoors (in a World of Video Games)

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It’s sad to think that most of today’s children grow up spending more time playing video games in the basement than enjoying the great outdoors. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be your child’s story. Whether you realize it or not, you play a significant role in helping your kids fall in love with the great outdoors. Whether you’re an outdoorsman or could use a little more fresh air yourself, opportunities for teaching and instruction abound.

4 Ways to Teach Kids About the Great Outdoors

Be prepared for an initial struggle. If your kids are used to spending their weekends on the sofa with greasy controllers, they probably won’t be super excited about the prospect of going outside. Be persistent, though. Eventually, with the right experiences, they’ll learn to love it.

1. Go for a Hike

The key is to start kids off slowly. You want to get them excited, not scare them away. If you have a state park or public walking trails near your house, go on a short one- or two-mile hike. It doesn’t need to be anything strenuous — just enough to get them in nature. Use this time to talk about what you see around you, pointing out wildlife and exploring whatever interests the kids.

Even just a simple walk in the city is a good way to get outdoors. Photo: Adobe Stock

2. Try Fishing

If you have kids who are a little more hands-on or competitive, they might find something like fishing more exciting than walking or hiking.

Fishing is great because it teaches children patience. It also provides extended exposure to nature for a period of a few hours. A child as young as 2 can find joy in fishing.

3. Teach Outdoor Survival Skills

As a parent, you should make it a priority to teach your kids some outdoor survival skills. Not only are these skills fun for young kids to practice, but they’re extremely practical and could end up saving their lives one day.

There are thousands of individual skills you can teach – however, you should focus on the important principles. They need to be able to keep a clear mind in a high-pressure situation, find and purify water, make a shelter out of natural elements, build a fire, identify edible food, and call for help. If they can accomplish these tasks, you’ve done your job as a parent.

4. Plan the Trip of a Lifetime

Want to really impress your kids and get them hooked on the great outdoors? Consider planning the trip of a lifetime. A child’s 16th or 18th birthday is the perfect opportunity.

One really neat idea is to take an African safari trip. Game reserves offer a variety of activities, including safaris and game tracking, horseback riding, mountain biking, bird watching, star gazing and even photography classes for those who are interested.

A safari can be a life-changing trip for a teen. Photo: Adobe Stock

Another option is to do some backcountry camping in a remote area where you have to practice the outdoor survival skills you’ve learned as a family.

Do Your Kids a Favor

When your children turn 18 and go off to college or move out of the house, do you really want their defining childhood experiences to be playing video games and watching Netflix? Wouldn’t it be great if they left the proverbial nest with an appreciation and connection to the great outdoors? While it’s ultimately up to them to participate, you can do your kids a favor by providing the opportunities.

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Anna Johansson

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more, Anna loves enjoying the great outdoors with her family. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.