Passing on a Love of the Great Outdoors

Inspiration to get outside!

Get the appropriate gear, be flexible and enjoy the wonder of nature.

With Earth Day as my inspiration, I thought I’d show a little love for the earth, which isn’t hard to do since a love of the outdoors is in my blood.

My dad is an avid camper, hiker and rugged outdoorsman who’s affinity for nature was instilled by his dad. I have many memories spending time in the woods, but my fondest are the yearly backpacking trips we took for nearly a decade: dad carrying the largest pack, prepared for anything, and me carrying just the essentials.

I provided the non-stop chatter as I verbally processed all that was afflicting my adolescent mind while he mostly listened, occasionally interjecting wisdom and encouragement. Together we headed into the wilderness, away from modern conveniences, for some precious daddy-daughter bonding time.

Those times shaped me in more ways than one, solidifying that I was deeply loved and cherished as well as instilling an affection for nature and the Creator. Those memories now stir in me the desire to pass on that love to my children.

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So when my husband and I had our daughter, it didn’t take us long to get her properly outfitted to enjoy the outdoors. We carried her while snowshoeing as a six month-old and climbed a 14er (14,000 foot mountain) when she was one year old.  Some of her first toddling steps were on mountain trails.

We connect deeply with God in nature; his majesty and creativity is evident in the diversity of his creation. The soaring mountains, the crashing waves, and the abundant wildlife fill us with awe and elicit worship.

My heart is filled with joy when my 3 year old praises her Creator and exclaims, “Look at the beautiful sunset! Isn’t God amazing?!” So not only are we passing on a love of the outdoors, we are passing on an awareness of the God who made her, loves her and is pleased when she enjoys his creation.

Whether you are seeking to celebrate Earth Day in a relevant way or are simply trying to cultivate a love of nature in your own children, here are a few things to consider:

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Get the gear 

Outfitting your little one appropriately is essential to their enjoyment. Dress in layers, utilize a sun hat and use sunscreen. Also, a comfortable carrier is paramount for your comfort as well as your child’s. I carried my little one in a Bjorn until she was about a year old and then my dad bought us the ultimate hiking backpack, the Osprey Poco Child Carrier, for her to ride in style.

Be flexible 

While you can carry your child pretty much anywhere, you still have to be willing to flex. Weather conditions that didn’t affect you without children could make for a miserable time with children.

We have entered the stage where our daughter is too big to be carted in a carrier, but not big enough for longer treks, which allows us to slow down and leads to my next point...

Enjoy the wonderment of discovery through your child's eyes

While including your children requires flexibility, it also enhances your experience profoundly. The joy and energy they bring to the most basic outing is unparalleled.

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As we were searching for sea shells on the beach recently, I was hunting for only the most perfect ones to add to my collection. I would pick one up, find it to be lacking and discard it. My daughter would pick up my rejected shell, add it to her collection, and proclaim it to be beautiful. I was deeply touched by her care for the broken things when I wanted only the unblemished.

So pack up the essentials, adjust your expectations and discover the outdoors together. There is so much to learn and discover both from creation and from our children.

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.

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