two outdoor kids sitting on a stump
Bozeman, MT, USA

Our motivation for writing this post is simple: we believe all children should have the chance to be outdoor kids and have more access to outdoor places. The benefits of being in nature are immense, from boosting physical health to enhancing cognitive development.

mother and toddler hiking down a trail in Hong Kong
Sir Cecil’s Ride, Hong Kong, S.A.R, China

As parents of two adventurous boys, Peri and Kai, we’ve witnessed firsthand the positive impact nature has had on their growth and well-being. We hope to share our experiences and inspire other families to embrace the great outdoors, regardless of their starting point.

mother and infant standing on a mountain in North Conway, NH
North Conway, New Hampshire, USA

Let’s explore why we think nature is the best place for kids and how you can make it a part of your family’s life. If you have any comments/questions, please leave them below.

What Is An Outdoor Kid?

outdoor kids toddler hiking in Death Valley, CA
Death Valley National Park, California, USA

An outdoor kid is a child who loves spending time outside, exploring, playing, and learning in nature. Whether it’s running through a park, building sandcastles on the beach, or hiking in the mountains, outdoor kids find joy and inspiration in the great outdoors. But…

father and two outdoor kids walking through the salt flats in Death Valley, CA
Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Being an outdoor kid doesn’t always mean trekking through untamed wilderness. It can be as simple as enjoying a local playground, visiting a city park, or spending time in your backyard.

However, for us, raw nature holds a special place in our hearts.

The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Cognitive Development

young boy holding a stick while hiking in Hong Kong
Hong Kong, S.A.R, China

Numerous studies have shown that time spent outdoors can significantly boost cognitive development in children. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, children who spend more time in green spaces show better attention and working memory.

family selfie on Ling Kok Shan in Hong Kong
Lamma Island, Hong Kong, S.A.R., China

Watching our sons, Peri and Kai, thrive and develop in these environments has been incredibly rewarding. We’ve seen firsthand how their curiosity and problem-solving skills have blossomed after spending time in nature – one of the many reasons we love that they are outdoor kids.

Physical Health

young boy paddling in a canoe in Monticello, IN
Monticello, Indiana, USA

Outdoor play promotes physical health, reducing the risk of childhood obesity and encouraging an active lifestyle. The American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that children who play outside are more likely to engage in physical activities, leading to healthier and happier lives.

young boy riding a balance bike on a dirt road in Taos, NM
Taos, New Mexico, USA

We’ve noticed that after a day of hiking or playing at the park, Peri and Kai sleep better and have more energy for their daily activities.

Emotional Well-being

two outdoor kids hiking in the desert of Deming, NM
Deming, New Mexico, USA

Spending time in nature has been linked to improved mood and reduced stress levels in children. Outdoor kids certainly experience these benefits. The Journal of Environmental Psychology highlights that outdoor play can significantly lower stress and anxiety in children, contributing to their overall emotional well-being.

Mother and son kissing while on a hiking trail in Hong Kong, SAR
Sai Kung, Hong Kong, S.A.R., China

Our family hikes and camping trips have become essential stress-busters for all of us. Watching Peri and Kai giggle while chasing butterflies or feeling their excitement as they discover a hidden stream is a joy that brightens our days.

We Prefer Raw Nature But Enjoy Anything Outdoors

two outdoor kids scrambling up to a waterfall in Canton, NC
Canton, North Carolina, USA

While parks and playgrounds are accessible options and may be the only option for many outdoor kids, we find that immersing our children in raw nature offers unparalleled benefits.

Two boys playing on the banks of the Missouri River in Bismarck, ND
Bismarck, North Dakota, USA

The sights, sounds, and smells of a forest, the challenge of a mountain trail, or the tranquility of a lakeside campfire can provide profound experiences that shape young minds and hearts.

Boy scrambling up a slot canyon in Las Cruces, NM
Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA

We believe that raw nature fosters resilience, creativity, and a deep appreciation for the environment.

The Magic Of Raw Nature

two boys climbing rocks at Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Mexico
Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca City, Mexico

I remember one particular trip to the mountains when Peri, barely four, entirely on his own hiked his first serious hiking trail. The look of sheer accomplishment and joy on his face as he completed the trail was unforgettable. It’s moments like these that reaffirm our love for raw nature.

Acknowledging Our Privilege

two boys throwing stones into Opal Lake outside of Pagosa Springs, CO
Pagosa Springs, Colorado, USA

We recognize that being able to take our kids into nature is a privilege not everyone can enjoy. Access to outdoor spaces can be limited by geographic, economic, and social factors.

boy collecting rocks at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona, USA

We are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had and believe that advocating for accessible nature spaces is crucial. It’s important to remember that there are many good ways to raise children, and each family must find what works best for them.

man hiking on The Subway in Sedona, AZ
Sedona, Arizona, USA

Whether your kids are more inclined toward indoor activities, arts, sports, or any other interest, what matters most is the love and support they receive. We would never claim that our way is the only way or even the best way for everyone. It’s simply what works for our family.

toddler hiking through tall grass in Sedona, AZ
Sedona, Arizona, USA

The Challenges Of Getting Kids Into Nature

father carrying son on his back in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
Yellowstone, Wyoming, USA

Bringing children into nature isn’t always easy, however. Weather conditions, safety concerns, and the sheer effort of organizing outdoor adventures can be daunting. Over the years, we’ve faced our share of challenges. From meltdowns on mountain trails to forgotten camping gear, we’ve made plenty of mistakes.

two outdoor kids exploring the salt flats in Death Valley, CA
Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Each challenge has taught us valuable lessons and allowed us to amass a number of tips about how to get your kids hiking, and we’re here to share our experiences and offer support to anyone struggling with similar issues.

ChallengeSolution
Weather ConditionsPlan for various weather scenarios. Bring appropriate clothing and gear for rain, cold, or heat. Always have a backup plan for indoor activities.
Safety ConcernsEducate your children on safety rules for different environments. Carry a first aid kit, and ensure you have a charged phone. Always supervise young children.
Lack of TimeIntegrate nature into daily routines. Take short walks, visit nearby parks, or have outdoor picnics. Even small doses of nature can be beneficial in creating outdoor kids.
Resistance from ChildrenMake outdoor activities fun and engaging. Involve your children in planning and let them choose activities they enjoy. Use games and storytelling to entice them.
Limited Access to Natural SpacesExplore urban nature options like community gardens, green rooftops, and local parks. Look for organized nature programs and events in your area.
Logistical Challenges (gear, transportation)Simplify outings by keeping a ready-to-go nature bag with essentials. Carpool with other families, or use public transportation to reach nature spots.
Parental Fatigue or Lack of EnthusiasmStart small and build up gradually. Join nature groups or clubs to share the experience with other families. Remind yourself of the benefits and stay motivated on the path to creating outdoor kids.
Disruptions to RoutineBe flexible and patient. Gradually incorporate nature activities into your routine. Celebrate small successes and adapt as needed.

Overcoming Resistance

child yelling at the red rocks in Sedona, AZ
Sedona, Arizona, USA

Peri and Kai are sometimes resistant to hiking, despite the fact that they are outdoor kids. They might complain or drag their feet. So, on those days we turn our hikes into a game. We identify different plants and animals along the way or even turn our hikes into a veritable treasure hunt. Now, the boys look forward to our “nature play time!”

We’re Happy To Support You

father helping toddler climb up rocks in Sedona, AZ
Sedona, Arizona, USA

If you’re finding it tough to get your kids outdoors, know that you’re not alone. We’ve been there, and we’re more than happy to share our tips and tricks. Whether it’s finding local nature spots, packing the right gear, or managing expectations, we’ve got your back. Feel free to reach out to us for advice or just to share your own stories.

Outdoor Kids – Conclusion

mother carrying infant on her back through the desert of Deming, NM
Deming, New Mexico, USA

In our experience, nature is the best place for kids. It nurtures their bodies, minds, and spirits in ways that few other environments can. But we also acknowledge that there are many paths to raising happy, healthy children.

both looking out over a valley in Death Valley National Park, CA
Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Creating outdoor kids is a journey, one that can be tailored to fit your unique circumstances and preferences. We’re here to inspire, support, and learn alongside you as we all strive to give our children the best start in life.

Our Journey

Mother and her toddler atop Poon Hill in Nepal
Poon Hill, Kaski District, Gandaki Province, Nepal

Our journey to becoming an outdoor family with outdoor kids has been filled with ups and downs, but every step has been worth it. From the first hesitant steps on a forest path to the triumphant summits of family hikes, each moment has strengthened our bond and enriched our lives.

Mother changing baby's diaper on a trail in Hong Kong, SAR
Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path, Hong Kong, S.A.R., China

Peri and Kai have grown more resilient and curious, and we’ve all grown closer as a family. We hope to inspire you to embark on your own outdoor adventures with your kids. Here’s to raising the next generation of outdoor kids together!

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