6 Ideas for Outdoor Exploration to Help Prepare Kids for Camp
A big part of going to camp is spending time exploring outdoors. Getting dirty and active in nature isn’t something most kids get to do on a daily basis, and this opportunity is one of the great benefits of camp! Kids who aren’t used to outdoor exploration may not be fully prepared, though, so trying some outdoor activities ahead of time is a great way to help them know what to expect.
Go on a Backyard Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is a super-fun way for kids to get into the idea of exploration and learn a little more about nature. The possibilities are endless, so pick something that suits your child’s age, and let the hunt begin! One idea is to check out books from the library about the types of plants and insects you can find where you live, and use it as a guide. Or you can give the kids a theme, such as colors or textures to look for.
Press Flowers and Leaves
After the scavenger hunt, help kids press flowers and leaves they find by placing them between the pages of a heavy book. Pressing flowers is an activity that brings the outdoors in and teaches kids to appreciate the beauty of nature. Once they have dried, pressed flowers can be used to make all kinds of nature art.
Get Into Bug Collecting
Bug collecting gets kids interested in nature and provides a great lesson about how to approach insects. You can buy inexpensive bug collectors or use clear plastic containers. This is another activity that is even better with a library book that kids can use to identify and learn about the bugs they collect. Use this opportunity to teach kids that most creepy, crawly things are safe and nothing to fear, but that they should never bother a bee or wasp.
Become Bird Watchers
Bird watching with kids is another activity for exploration that is educational and easy to do right in your own backyard. You can teach your children all about the climate, how that influences the birds that visit your property, and how they have adapted to the influence of people on their habitat. Take this opportunity to work on another special project together, such as building a birdhouse to encourage more birds to come into your yard.
Explore a Creek or Pond
Find a nearby creek or pond and encourage kids to wade in and investigate what lies below the surface. Creeks are usually full of interesting rocks, which could be the start to a new rock collection. These small bodies of water are also full of little animals to study. Check out Parents for instructions to make a sifter with an embroidery hoop, perfect for collecting specimens. Water exploration is another great way to get kids used to being a little out of their element so they’ll be more comfortable jumping right in at camp.
Hit the Trails
Many parents worry about how their kids would handle hiking, but hitting a trail is entirely doable with kids as long as you plan ahead. The Wilderness Society recommends picking a short hike that has a feature like a waterfall that will make it a fun experience for kids. You can use an app like TrailLink to find one that is nearby, and it can also guide you down the trails to ensure you don’t get lost.
If you decide to travel by bike, REI recommends gearing up with helmets, a pump, and a multitool. You also might need a bicycle-friendly mount for your smartphone. Be sure to pack basic outdoor essentials, too, like a first aid kit and water bottles, and use this opportunity to educate kids on trail safety and how each item should be used. If you’re driving to trailheads, it’s also an opportunity to teach kids about basic vehicle maintenance. You can turn to online guides to help you with basic pointers.
This is a great lesson on the importance of preparation, as well as how to be a good outdoor citizen. Teach kids how to go by the old adage to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.
Between your own backyard, neighborhood parks, and local trails, there are plenty of ways to introduce kids to nature. Don’t wait for summer to get outside! Start exploring now to prepare kids for their camp adventures to come!
For an educational plan designed to help your child blossom, turn to Little Scholars Daycare! Call 682-222-7662 for more information or to schedule a tour.
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