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How to Become Outdoorsy When You Didn't Grow Up That Way


A young girl holds a green KWE patch.

This week's blog post is written by one of our USA Explorer Families, @knead.to.roam. Antonia Grant and her daughter, Sweet Pea, are the dynamic adventure duo behind Knead to Roam, exploring all that Minnesota has to offer. Antonia did not grow up outdoorsy, and that is okay. She has shared her experience with us and tips on how to become outdoorsy because everyone has a place in nature. 


 


How to Become Outdoorsy

Antonia and her daughter stand along Lake Superior.

I never considered myself “outdoorsy”. Sure, we went camping and spent time outdoors when I was young, but if I’m honest, I hated most of it. It never felt “right” to me - the bugs, the heat, the dirt. It just wasn’t my thing. As I aged, I opted out of outdoorsy invitations from friends and family. Then, I became a mom. Everything changed. From infancy, I could see my daughter was her best self outside. Her innate curiosity and joy gave me a new lens on outdoor life. I found myself seeking new adventures and experiences for us to share. Every stick, rock, and creepy critter she discovered was pure magic (well, less so the creepy critters). Her desire made me want to give the outdoors another chance. So I did. I am proof that someone can decide to become outdoorsy. If you’re wondering how to become outdoorsy, keep reading!



Start Slow

Antonia and her daughter stand atop a hiking trail near Grand Marais.

You don’t need much to get started. If you’re wondering how to become an outdoor person, the first thing to do is start slow. Find one or two things that you enjoy doing in each season. Maybe that is hiking, going to the beach, snowshoeing. Whatever it is, focus on that first and grow from there. If your newfound enjoyment of the outdoors stems from your child, it’s even better to find things you can do together! We simply started with picnics and playground time. From there, we added hiking and other outdoor adventures. The time outside together is what matters most.


Learn the Basics

A young girl hikes along a trail in northern Minnesota.

One of the most important things in learning how to become outdoorsy is knowing the safety basics and what to bring with you. Each region has wildlife, temperatures, and weather that can impact your time outdoors. Know the specifics for your area so that you can be prepared in case of emergency or weather changes. Additionally, you will hear outdoorsy people reference the “ten essentials”. Get to know what these items are and bring them along when appropriate. Since you’re starting slow, you’re likely planning for light hiking or outdoor play in good weather. If that is the case, be sure to wear weather-appropriate clothes and pack snacks, water, and sun protection. Spare clothes in the car can also be helpful when you encounter dirt, water, or mud on your adventures.


Follow Your Child's Lead

Antonia and her young daughter explore a stream.

If you’re trying to figure out how to become an outdoor person, follow your child’s lead! Child-led hikes or adventures are inherently slow-paced and focused on their interests. If you’re not convinced you’re going to fall in love with the outdoors alongside your child, this is a great place to start. Following their lead will allow you to witness their curiosity, joy, confidence, and interests. Ask them questions about what they see, what they hear, and what they smell. Let them touch sticks, balance on logs, and play in puddles. This is how they learn! Encouraging their interests and engaging in their play will also help you bond as a family.


Try New Things

A young girl hikes in the rain forests of Puerto Rico.

When you’re ready, try new things together. One of the best ways to learn to love the outdoors is to find different ways to get out there! Trying new hobbies together can be very motivating. As your children and your love for the outdoors grow, so will the list of things you enjoy doing together. If your entry to the outdoors is hiking, then you may enjoy snowshoeing during the winter. Alternatively, you may enjoy hiking to new heights by taking a family vacation to see the mountains. If you’re not quite ready to try something new, you could also set an outdoor goal for your family. Some families track the number of hours they spend outside or the number of hikes they do in a year. This is another way to grow your love of the outdoors.


Know Your Limits, But Don't Be Afraid to Try Again

Antonia and her daughter explore northern Minnesota in the snow.

It’s okay to know your limits when you’re learning how to become outdoorsy. Just because you enjoy hiking with your kids, doesn’t mean you need to jump into skiing, backpacking, or camping. It’s also okay to try something and decide that you don’t like it. There are so many ways to enjoy the outdoors, especially as a family. Find the right combination of activities, pace, and locations for you. With that said, it’s also okay to try something again in another season or year. For example, if you didn’t enjoy snowshoeing the first time or two (like me), it’s okay to work up the courage to try it again! I hated snowshoeing the first time I tried it. I’m not ashamed to say I sobbed almost the whole time. However, after taking a few years off, I tried it again and actually enjoyed it. It’s okay to try again!


Find Your People

Three kids sit together at the edge of a lake.

Any time you start something new, establishing a support community is key. As such, this is also an important part of learning how to become outdoorsy as a family! There are many local and online communities that you can join to find support. Kids Who Explore is one such community (welcome!). Finding a group of people who support your desire and goals to become an outdoorsy parent will increase your chance of success. Building your outdoor community is also key to asking questions, getting gear recommendations, seeking support, and getting inspired!


You Got This!

Antonia and her young daughter sit on a rock near Lake Superior, while exploring Michigan.

If I can become outdoorsy, anyone can! Don’t let your lack of previous experiences or prior bad experiences hinder you from getting outside with your kids. It can take time and patience to learn to love the outdoors with kids. But it can be done! If you read this whole article, it proves that you are ready to start. I hope this has helped you learn how to become outdoorsy and gain some confidence in getting outdoors with your kids. You got this!

 


Thank you for reading this week's blog post and continuing to be a part of this community. We hope that Antonia has inspired you to learn to love the outdoors or love them even more now! The outdoors is a wonderful place, and everyone has a place in nature. Happy Exploring!

Remember to tag @KidsWhoExplore and use #KWE #KidsWhoExplore for a chance to be featured on Instagram or TikTok.

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