Outdoor Activities for Families
The good thing about adventure is that it can be whatever you want it to be. It’s something you can define for yourself, because there is no right or wrong.
It doesn’t have to be climbing huge mountains or doing anything particularly spectacular or daring. And this means there are no excuses for not going outside and having an adventure, even if you are a family with young children.
Recent studies have said that four out of five children are disconnected with nature. That’s far too many kids not getting outside to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors - a lot less than when I was a child.
So, what is stopping so many children from spending time outdoors? Nothing. Well, nothing that can’t be easily overcome. Sometimes people just need to be supported, encouraged, even forced to take that step into adventure.
So with this in mind, here are five adventurous outdoor activities for families to try:
1. Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boarding
Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a must-try activity for anyone wanting to splash about on the water together. Initially, do it with an activity provider by the sea or on a lake to get the best experience. And don't worry about falling in; you can start kneeling and gradually stand as you build up confidence. It won't be long, though, before you'll be standing and paddling like a pro (well, that's the theory).
For those of you that like a challenge, take a SUP safari around a lake or venture out alone at the coast. SUP provides great exercise for core muscles as well as general toning.
2. Eat 'out' together as a family
Eating out together as a family is a treat but can also be quite expensive. Really eating outdoors (yes, in the open air) as a family is equally a treat but it is a lot cheaper. It simply involves taking a selection of ingredients, a camping stove and a few plates and cutlery to a location of your choice.
The location could be a nearby woodland, lake, hillside or river - whatever appeals to you and your kids. Get the kids to help prepare the food (chop the vegetables etc.) before going off to explore and play while the food is being cooked. After working up an appetite, you can all enjoy a simple, healthy meal together.
3. Float down a river - Canoe / kayaking / rafting / just float
Rivers offer the perfect playground for people wanting to swim, paddle or just float. As a family we love finding rivers to splash around in. For cheap thrills, just put on a lifejacket and float down the rapids and torrents. Canoes are ideal for a leisurely family trip down a wide, slow, meandering river. For those looking for a white-knuckle ride, use an activity provider that can safely introduce you to white water kayaking or rafting.
4. Gorge walking /scrambling
Take your kids hiking in a local gorge. Jump into plunge pools, float along rapids, ride a natural water flume – this is not for the faint-hearted or the lily-livered. Adrenalin, courage and a go-for-it attitude are a must.
The activity is best done with an activity provider in order to fully experience the thrills. They will provide you with a helmet, wetsuit and local knowledge of the weather and geography. Bumps and bruises are guaranteed - but it's definitely worth it.
5. Rock pooling and crabbing
We love to go rock pooling as a family and have spent many hours exploring pools left by a retreating tide. If you go, you'll be sure to see a wealth of sea life including: seaweed, shrimps, small fish and crabs but also look out for urchins, anemone and the adorable but shy little hermit crab. Use your net carefully as these are fragile environments, and remember take only memories away with you, and leave only footprints.
If you ever go crabbing (which we strongly recommend) drop a line with some leftover bacon on the end, ideally when the tide is turning, and you'll be amazed at how easy it is to catch common harbor crabs. These crusty, crustaceans are simple yet fascinating creatures. Keep them temporarily in a bucket of seawater, then release them and see which one makes it back to the water first - and make sure your bucket isn't overcrowded as this can cause stress for the crabs.
The key thing about outdoor adventures and activities as a family is the ‘going’ part. The doing. At the age of 7 my daughter thought of the phrase “Adventure is out there; you just have to go and find it!” This is now our family motto; it inspires and motivates us every day to ‘go’ and ‘do,’ whether we’re taking the kids hiking, camping, canoeing or just kicking the soccer ball around at the park.
So, over to you… go and find some of your own family adventures to do and enjoy getting the kids – and yourself – outside!