National Forest Foundation

Five Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Outdoor Adventure With Kids

The National Forest System, Camping, Adventures

scroll

Hi there, Brooke Murray here! Before the kids came along, I always knew I wanted to share my adventurous lifestyle with my family. Getting outside with my two children in Colorado is part of our daily routine — sunshine or snow. We love to ski, hike, bike, climb, and most especially camp together. Sometimes we spend hours on the trail examining pinecones or following beetles. My “motherhood with a side of dirt” adventure blog teaches families the skills they need to get outside together and create their own family memories in nature. Despite hours of research and preparation, I seem to learn the most by trial and error. I’m excited to share a little of what I have learned with you today!

Adventure really takes on a new definition after you become a parent, doesn't it? Tasks that used to be a breeze now feel monumental (especially when you have a toddler who missed her nap). Remember when you used to run to the grocery store and didn’t have to deal with car seats, negotiate with a miniature troublemaker, and stealthily navigate past the toy aisle? It’s really no surprise why so many of us parents are a little less active and adventurous than we used to be. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and wanting to spend some rejuvenating time with nature, here are FIVE TIPS to help your next family forest adventure feel a little less intimidating.

​Photo credit: Brooke Murray

Epic adventure can be found close to home

We certainly all love a good road trip from time to time. But let’s be honest, between the back of your seat getting kicked, a bottle of milk spilling in the car, and “Baby Shark” doo-doo-dooing over the stereo, road trips look a little different these days. That’s okay! While you might tend to think of a high alpine campsite or a far-off marvel of nature as a destination, think outside the box when planning your next trip. You might be surprised to find you have a National Forest close to your home, with plenty of dispersed camping and trails to explore.

“How do I find somewhere new to explore?” you might be asking. Easy! The "Find a Forest" section of our website will help you find a National Forest near you and will help you find campsites and hiking trails in the area. Instead of spending hours in the car, spend those extra hours chasing your kiddos around the forest.

There WILL be some crying at night, and that's totally okay

Is the fear of your infant crying during the night keeping you from camping? We’ve all been there. The sooner you accept that there WILL be a little crying, the easier it will be for you to head out for that first overnight adventure with your kids. If you are worried about keeping other campers up at night, go find a dispersed campsite! The US Forest Service provides some amazing resources for each area within National Forests giving suggestions of where to find dispersed camping areas, and how to practice Leave No Trace Principles.

Have a plan B and maybe a plan C

You might be catching on to the fact that adventure with children rarely goes exactly as planned. Before heading out, have a backup plan, and even a backup backup! That way, if you are unable to find available dispersed camping in the area you were planning on visiting, you won’t be stuck without other options. Before heading off grid for the weekend, download or screenshot maps for camping and hiking/biking in 2-3 different areas, just to be safe.

​Photo credit: Brooke Murray

Take the guesswork out of packing

Let’s just say it; camping with the family is A LOT of work. Instead of starting over at square one each time you want to go camping, have the majority of your gear stored and organized in bins, ready to go. Take a little time to make some basic packing lists, meal plans, and some go-to layering systems for each person in your family. This way you won’t have to think twice about getting everything ready to head out the door.

Need a little help? Brooke co-founded WildKind, a membership community geared towards getting families geared up for adventure. WildKind offers packing lists, meal plans, and an educational video library to help your family dial in your camping system and set up. The community is set to launch soon!

Be flexible

Most importantly, remember to stay flexible. Things will never go *quite* as planned. And that’s totally fine. You might end up going home a day early, or finding a spot on the river to explore instead of your original destination. This is a short season of life, and being able to pivot and adjust on the fly will bring your family so much more happiness and peace than rigidly sticking to your original plan. Remember, the goal is to raise lifelong adventure buddies and make lasting memories as a family. Keep it fun and lighthearted, and come back and explore your first plan another time soon. Enjoy!

​Photo credit: Brooke Murray


Related Posts

Three Ways For the Entire Family to Have Fun Camping

Not every child takes instantly to the idea of camping. Here are some suggestions for making the family camping trip a little more appealing to everyone involved. Few activities can bring a family with children closer together than a camping trip. The cooperative effort, the time together experiencing the outdoors and new places, the shared laughter—all have the potential for lifetime-memory creators. These are the types of experiences parents want to give their children: great family times that grown kids can look back upon and cherish.

Read more

Share this post on social media

Comments

Like this content?

If you enjoy this article and find it useful, support the NFF to ensure we can continue helping you and others discover our National Forests.

Donate Now