Updated: Nov 28, 2019
As I was thinking about starting this blog, I polled a few people about content. One thing that came up a few times was around getting kids into spending time in the outdoors. The idea pitched to me was that since my daughter has in many ways become Max to my Eleven perhaps, I knew something. To be honest I am not sure I do or at least there was no prescribed plan when my daughter was born to make her love the outdoors like I do but over time I like to believe that she does. So, without further ado here are a few things that worked for me
For my daughter and I it began with walks in a very small forested area near our house that we called the Magical Forest. The forest was magic simply because we once found deer poop there and to a 3-year-old the notion that deer would actually be in a forest that close to our house in the city was magical. Our first camping trip was a one-nighter 30 minutes from home but the campfire, sleeping under the stars was enough to set up next years longer and further trip. Perhaps you have conservation areas near you or even setting up a tent in your backyard could be a good start.
Keep it Simple
When it came time to take my daughter fishing, I must say that the first effort was a major fail. We went out in my Dad’s high-tech fishing boat on Balsam lake. The fishing action was not fast and furious and once my daughter was bored the confined space of the boat became oppressive. Our next outing was simply fishing off a dock where I knew there was an abundance of pan fish for action. The dock was also great because of boredom set in it was quite easy to jump in the water for a swim, go up to the cottage for a drink. In the GTA there are lots of conservation area’s where one can fish, rent a canoe or just go a for a hike as a start. If you don’t have access to a dock maybe a trout pond is a good first option, some can be expensive but usually they provide fast action.
Make it Fun
For the most part when I fish with kids its all about them. We play little games, I ensure they have what they need, tangles are fixed right away and a trick I learned from my Pop all those years ago is that you can’t go wrong with a pocket full of Werther’s or Life Savers. When we hike or paddle its great to plan a pit stop – if possible, we love to have a fire and cook something or warm up a drink in the winter. If no fire, we generally pack a little something and a thermos for break time. Usually this also isn’t the time to go lunker hunting or make that extra-long paddle – action and variety are the key. Every child is different, but I have found making sure there is an “intermission” during the outing and bringing along extra things really help.
Nothing is cooler than showing off a big fish or a trip in the kayak to your friends. I am bad at taking pictures or jotting things down. When my daughter and I are out I make an extra effort to snap a picture or jot down a memory so that we can share it again or more importantly she can show it or tell it to her friends. In this age of Instagram and snapchat kids more than ever are looking to share their own experiences so bringing along a camera or a go pro can really drive interest in the outing.
Kids (or at least mine) are innately curious and at a certain point they are also trying to gain some independence. When we are out, I always try to explain what fish was caught or what track that is on the trail or what bird just flew past the kayak. If I don’t know a lot of times, we will take a picture or jot it down and then it’s a google look up when we get home. My daughter also wanted to learn how to take off her own fish, choose and lure (and understand why). I must say that nowadays I get to fish quite a bit for myself when we are out as my daughter is quite a skilled angler. There are lots of great books out there so maybe a start is reading about fish or local wildlife in your area. And if non fiction books aren’t your thing maybe there are a few adventure series – my daughter loved Hatchet by Gary Paulson.
Hopefully some of the above are helpful or maybe its just common sense.
I have always loved the outdoors so to be able to share that with my daughter is amazing. Part of me knows that she enjoys spending time with me to, but I do think that the things I have outlined made her enjoy it without feeling like I dragged her along.