By 'Live the Adventure' Club Ambassador Nancy Besharah
I didn't have a plan for raising my kids to be adventurers when I started out, so it's been pretty much learn-as-I-go. And while the journey hasn't been predictable or effortless, introducing our children to outdoor adventure has been valuable beyond measure. Now that the boys are teenagers, our time outside is precious, allowing us to reconnect as a family. I hope that the lessons I've learned along the path to raising adventurers will help you get outside more with your kids.
The sooner you can get outside and start adventuring with your children, the better. Fortunately, there is gear galore in the form of baby backpacks, all-terrain strollers and bike trailers to help families explore the outdoors. When kids grow up with adventure, it becomes part of their lifestyle.
Take Baby StepsNancy Besharah
Don't attempt too much too soon. This applies to children of all ages. Begin your family adventure with a short hike or bike to a place that the children will enjoy, ex. a playground. Build on this positive experience with longer outings. It's like training for a marathon—you can't rush it.
Be CommittedNancy Besharah
It's not always easy to get outside with the kids. And once you are out there, it's not always easy to stay. It takes commitment, especially in the early days. I've heard "Are we there yet?" for miles. I've invented games like counting cows to keep the boys walking. And on occasion, I've resorted to using food as a reward. I often joke that I led my kids through the Alps one apple strudel at a time. And back in the day, I did!
Choose Your Destination WiselyNancy Besharah
It pays to research the experience to ensure it's family-friendly before you embark on your adventure, regardless of whether it's outside of the country or close to home. We discovered that Europe is an excellent place to introduce children to mountain adventures because of the abundant huts with food, drinks and washrooms as well as outdoor playgrounds and family-friendly trails. In Austria's Vorarlberg, our kids raced between 11 interactive learning stations located along the four-kilometre Natursprünge trail. With opportunities like experiencing a mini rock slide, there was no need to promise apple strudel along this trail. Regardless of where you choose to adventure, find or create experiences that leave the kids wanting more.
Lead by Example
Kids learn from their parents. If they see you being adventurous, they will be more inclined to do the same. I recently completed an Ironman 70.3 triathlon that included a daunting (at least for me) open ocean swim. After watching me train for this race, my youngest child is inspired to register for a triathlon.
Apart from leading by example, look for books or other ways to inspire your child's love of adventure. A few years ago we purchased Explore Magazine’s ‘Live the Adventure Club’ Gear Box as a birthday gift for our oldest son. He loves to unbox the cool adventure gear and often uses the products on school trips, family vacations, or other outdoor experiences.