As SAR members we love the great outdoors and we love experiencing it with our families, so in light of Family Day earlier this month (and the fact that the days are getting longer!), we’ve compiled some of our team members’ favourite recreational activities to do with kids, as well as a few things to consider when getting The Littles out and about.
- Short hikes with a fun reward at the end, ideally to a really cool destination like a cave, abandoned cabin, etc. Kids don’t seem to appreciate amazing views the same way adults do. They like to climb on/touch/interact with things, so factor that in. Caving at Chipmunk Caves and climbing at Harrison Bluffs were two fun suggestions.
- Tobogganing and snowshoeing. A propane campfire or camp stove can really ‘amp up’ a cold winter adventure. Having a spot for kids to warm up and hydrate with some hot chocolate adds to the fun-factor and makes the excursion last longer.
- Skiing and snowboarding are such great family activities and can normally start when kids are quite young. Learning strong skiing skills in a ski resort area is a good idea and then, when they’re skilled enough and understand how to operate required winter backcountry safety gear, start introducing them to the backcountry environment in low-risk to no-risk terrain. One piece of advice though: let an instructor teach them how to ski (it’s just better that way).
- Flatwater paddling. While still staying close enough to jump in if they need help, watch your kids and their friends try to figure out how to effectively move boats (in particular row boats) along the water… it’s a great spectator sport! Obviously, it’s important that kids and parents all wear life jackets, that they are playing in calm water with no current (such as a lake) and that an adult (who is a strong swimmer) is always close at hand. Fishing and boating are also hugely popular family activities which, for most, can start at an early age. One suggested activity was canoeing at Jones Lake and trapping crayfish. With regard to life jackets, ensure they are size appropriate and fit well! While still on dry land, test to ensure they are properly snug and will not lift over your child’s head.
- While this might not be a popular topic with some, including kids on short hunting trips can be a way to get kids to slow down and appreciate nature on a whole new level, become more aware of their senses, develop meaningful connections with nature and gain an understanding of where their food comes from.
- Pack Appropriately: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 10-20% of a child’s weight. Packs should also be comfortably padded and sit well. If they are old enough and strong enough it’s a great idea for them to carry their own packs, even if it’s just to hold a few of the snacks and a bit of water, as it really helps them feel that this is their adventure too. On the snack note, hungry kids can be grumpy kids (so keep the snacks handy) and bring ample water for the journey too. Adults should review and pack ‘The 10 Essentials’, keeping the kids in mind (extra layers, children’s medications for bee stings etc.).
- Complete a Trip Plan before you go: Things can take a little longer with children, so factor this into your estimated return time, and ensure that your emergency contact has full details for each member of the family travelling together, not just ‘the grown ups’.
Thanks to team CSAR team members Rob W., Joel, Morris, Hans and others for their comments!