Nature For Kids

Encouragment and ideas concerning wholesome outdoor recreation for kids and their parents.

Shawna is a winner of Top 25 Outdoorsy Moms - 2013

What's your favorite affordable outdoor activity to do with your kids?

With a family of six we've learned that "affordable" activities are synonymous with the outdoors. All it really takes is opening the door and stepping out for an adventure. I think collectively we enjoy geocaching the best. We made an initial investment of $100 on a GPS unit and have been enjoying it for years since. Geocaching is just a glorified hike. You get all the benefits of exercise and fresh air but you’re searching for something at the same time, which forces you to slow down and really take in everything around you.
Basically you load the locations of caches onto your GPS, using There’s an endless amount of caches hidden around the world so you’ll never run out. And then you go out in search of these caches using your GPS as the treasure map.
One of my favorite things about geocaching is seeing my family work together as a team to try and find a cache. We’ve found one inside a cave hidden under some rocks and another hanging from a tree in the middle of an island that we paddled out to. Each cache usually has a little surprise inside, a little toy and a log for you to sign. It could be the junkiest thing inside, like an old matchbox car, but my kids react as if it's gold coins every time.
I think geocaching teaches them to give too. Before we leave home we have the kids find little toys that they wouldn’t mind giving away. After we find a cache they put these toys inside the ammo box or whatever it is for others to find later. Their eyes light up and I can tell they are excited to leave something for the next passerby.
Overall it's a lovely way to spend a day together and make memories while enjoying the great outdoors at the same time.

What tips do you have for spending time outdoors when its cold?

When I think of cold outdoor activities with my kids the first thing that pops into my mind are those lovely moments when I’m digging snow out of their boots, fixing their gloves or adjusting their coat. It’s a blast. I’m sure most of you can relate to the joy of it all.
Those uncomfortable cold moments undoubtedly take away from your child’s experience, not to mention yours as well. So here's the number one tip I give to people…"Mind The Gap".
The gaps on your child's winter clothing, at their wrists, waist, ankles and neck are the Achilles heel of a successful outdoor adventure.
Here are 4 Keys To Dressing Your Kids For Winter Fun
1. Ankles – Use pants that connect in some way to the shoe. Look for stirrups on the pant leg that will aid in keeping it down and water/snow out.
2. Waist - The “less is more” approach is true when it comes to outdoor attire for little ones. Rather than having pants and a coat, go for a full body suit. There’s never a worry of wrestling a coat down or digging snow out of their britches.
3. Wrists – When gloves don’t meet up with the sleeve of a coat my kids turn into cranky pants. Look for long forearm length gloves that can be placed under the sleeve of a coat.
There are also lots of undergarments that have integrated thumb holes on the sleeve that keep sleeves from creeping up. And keep sensitive bare skin dry and happy.
4. Neck – Even though their ears may be covered in a cozy hat and their bodies nice and toasty in good gear, a bare neck can ruin a fun activity, windy chairlift rides come to mind. Look for apparel with high zip necks with soft inner material. An adjustable integrated hood makes a world of difference too. For even more protection the soft fleece turtle furs are nice.
And that's the secret to a successful outdoor winter activity..."Mind The Gap"

What's a great vacation destination for families that want to spend time outside?

I'm a bit biased because I live here, but I'd have to say UTAH is a great vacation destination for families that want to spend time outside! If that's too broad let me narrow it down to a few examples for you...
For a destination in the winter you can pick from any one of the many ski resorts that dot across the Wasatch Mountains. There's huge resorts, like The Canyons in Park City down to more intimate settings like Wolf Mountain near Ogden. I've sat in the Salt Lake City airport and seen traveler after traveler file out with their ski boots in one hand and pulling their ski bag with the other, and usually with a few kiddos trailing behind with their own gear.
In the spring and fall I'd recommend a visit to Southern Utah where there's endless mountain biking in Moab and petroglyph hunting in the nearby San Rafael Swell. The landscape is drastically different than the Snowy slopes that reside only a few hours away.
Summers can be spent rock climbing in the canyons of Utah, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Maple Canyon and Logan Canyon are just to name a few. Summer is also the perfect time to explore the jaw dropping mountains that jet up from the valleys. The high altitude provides everyone with cool camping and fishing and maybe even a little stand up paddle boarding on your favorite lake or river.
Overall Utah has something to offer everyone during every season of the year. It's a wonderful place to live and play!