One of my players will study in college to become a librarian.
I think it’s quite cool. She’s a studious sort, who found herself determined to try out for soccer in high school – and make it. She did just that and even scored a few goals along the way. She was inspirational to her teammates and to me.
Today’s guest writer is a librarian – but a ninja variety.
Rebecca writes the blog The Ninja Librarian. She’s the coolest librarian you’ll ever know. (Even cooler than that dreamy one at the Mint Hill Library.) Rebecca writes about writing, and of course reviews books for kids and adults.
She’s here today to talk about getting kids outdoors.
Please give Rebecca a warm CD welcome, and be sure to visit The Ninja Librarian.
First thing, I want to thank Eli here at Coach Daddy for inviting me in to write a guest post. I’m really excited for this chance to write about something that matters a lot to me: getting children into the outdoors.
It’s not exactly news that being outdoors is good for kids, and the wilder the green space the better. That’s why camping and backpacking are such perfect activities for families. But to a lot of parents, taking children into the woods is a daunting prospect. They’ll get lost! They’ll get eaten by bears! They’ll get (gasp!) dirty!
Parents who themselves are used to camping and backpacking may hesitate to take their children and can deny themselves something they love and crave out of misplaced fear.
I’m here to fix all the things keeping your kids at home.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But I do have some thoughts to share, as someone who took my babies camping and, yes, backpacking, from a very early age. I even wrote a book for the nervous parents, disguised as a picture book for the children. A is for Alpine began as a PDF I shared with some fellow backpackers who had small children. I wanted to let them know that they could still hike and backpack, though expectations have to be adjusted when you have children. I passed out a few electronic copies of the book and more or less forgot about it while I wrote novels.
With the recent uptick in reports of the benefits of the outdoors on children, it became apparent that while most parents won’t be taking their kids backpacking, the book would help any parent – and child – envision themselves in the outdoors, camping and hiking. So I published the book, and have toyed with writing a “how-to” manual to go with it.
But really, all you need to know is:
- Get out.
- Don’t be afraid.
- Have fun.
- Kids are supposed to get dirty.
- Take your children camping.
Many new parents are especially reluctant to take their babies out, but I discovered that infants are easy. They stay where you put them, and it’s easy to share your tent with one. Even backpacking isn’t too hard when they are still small and light. Diapers are a challenge (some advocate using cloth so you can rinse and dry the wet ones, but my kids insisted on disposables, so we just dealt with carrying them). But food is easy when they are being breastfed, and rice cereal is already a dehydrated meal; just add treated water.
Our first son went on a number of trips in his first year (the next summer, when we had a toddler and a newborn, we stayed closer to the car).
Toddlers, on the other hand, are hard. Toddlers have a lot of mobility and not much sense. At this stage, it’s a good idea to have extra adults, so someone is always available to watch the kid while camp chores can still get done. But the extra work is well-rewarded when you are able to share the small child’s way of looking at the word. Everything is new and fascinating, and their low-to-the-ground structure allows children to see things we towering adults too often miss: bugs and tiny plants and shiny rocks. This is a bad time for backpacking (too heavy to carry, too small to walk far), but still a good time for hiking and camping.
Find places to take them with water. Maybe some kids are different, but from an early age, mine were happy if they were throwing rocks into the water. Or sticks. Or anything else they could get their hands on.
Bring a toy and a stuffy the kid loves, to make a tent a friendly place. We chose to put our boys in one tent, us in another, but every family has to find the right way for themselves.
The joys of a child’s eye view of the world continue as the kids grow, and become the perfect camp and trail companions, able and (sometimes) eager to help with camp chores and entertain themselves. This was when backpacking became a joy, The boys became more able to hike, to carry a greater share of the gear, and to appreciate the wild places we visited. Outfit children with some knowledge and a safety whistle (be sure they understand it’s just for emergencies!), and let them explore their world.
Sometimes you have to swallow your fears, bite your tongue, and let them discover the world. Stand by with dry clothes and band-aids.
So, to summarize here’s how to get your kids outdoors:
Accept dirt. It doesn’t hurt children or adults.
Teach Leave No Trace ethics. https://lnt.org/learn/seven-principles-overview
Keep them safe, but not too safe. Let them explore.
Watch for ticks. Those are nasty. Check carefully.
Buy them decent raingear. Kids are more vulnerable to heat and cold than adults, so pay attention.
Feed them whatever they’ll eat.
Make it special.
Enjoy the outdoors as they do.
You’ll all benefit from it.
Thanks again for letting me come by and share on one of my favorite topics!
Here’s the scoop on Rebecca and her books.
Rebecca Douglass grew up in Idaho, Arizona, and Washington states, and now lives near San Francisco. Her passions include backpacking, hiking, books, and running and biking. She works at the library, volunteers in the schools, and is having a great time writing for kids and adults of all ages.
Or purchase direct: http://www.ninjalibrarian.com/p/blog-page_11.html