Encouraging Your Next Generation in the Outdoors!!!

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,032
895
Lancashire
A call to parents past and present. What tips, tricks and advice would you give parents to encourage appreciation of the outdoors in their kids?

I'm lucky because our 7 year old cycles, cycle tours, hikes and has a completely open interest in nature? He's got few if any fears of bugs for example, both parents have issues there. He's fit, healthy and very observant. He'll see a sub millimeter beetle or fly on a rock at his feet and it'll stop him for a few minutes while he studies it.

This is great at 7 but without encouragement it's almost certain to disappear when he goes into high school. I'd prefer it not to happen but it's his choice. If anyone has suggestions to stack his choice towards the outdoors I'm listening for sure.

Right now he's into Steve Backshall, deadly 60 and reading his book on tracking animals. Is there a good book on tracking or animals for children? Where are the good places to visit that grab kids attentions? Things like that.

I know this site is often about our own activities but every so often there's glimpses indicating that indicate kids are involved in our outdoors or bushcraft activities. Photos or comments with kids present and having fun. It's good to share information and pass things on.
 

The puffin squire

Tenderfoot
May 19, 2020
59
49
Kent
I am fortunate enough to live in a small village, we had a great family dog (black lab) and my boys grew up with regular hikes in the surrounding countryside and woods. Especially Sundays all seasons no matter the weather. Got them both into fishing, camp building, whittling, fire making and did lots of camping etc.... Now my youngest is 17 eldest 25 we all go wild camping regularly.

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oldtimer

Full Member
Sep 27, 2005
2,554
1,099
79
Oxfordshire and Pyrenees-Orientales, France
He seems to be just like my grandson was at that age. He is now 15 and retains all his outdoor interests. Our son is assiduous in supporting his activities by, for example, transporting him to the local woods where he works as a volunteer while resisting any temptation to interfere. It makes me very happy to see a long-term family tradition being maintained.

It appears to me that you are already doing all the right things. You are doing what my own father did for me: the method seems to work. Well done you!
 
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santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,850
1,062
64
Florida
Don’t play down the importance of your own interests. Most very young kids get their interests by example from Mom and Dad. As they grow that will gradually be replaced by examples from their peers (even here you have some influence by making sure they don’t associate with bad examples)

I’ve always done my best to take my grandkids on the outdoor pursuits I like:
-camping
-fishing
-canoeing
-hunting
-tubing
-swimming
-horseback riding
-etc.

In the case of hunting and fishing I’ve also taken them to events that the local authorities nd institutions put on specifically for youth (the annual youth fishing rodeos, and the annual youth hunts) Also I’ve sent them to local youth summer camps.

In the end they’ll decide for themselves what they want to continue. That said I see quite a lot of people that drift away from such pursuits during their mid teens to early adulthood but return to them when they have kids of their own.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,032
895
Lancashire
Sometimes they strike out on their own. Our son got us worried by showing a huge interest in playing football. Fortunately he grew out of it and back into the outdoor activities and cycling. I'd have supported his football and held back my opinions though.

I walked at the weekend with my parents and especially my dad. I learnt navigation from him, basically by learning from his mistakes if which it was a common occurrence. Most walks ended up w longer than planned because we got "lost". I suspect now it was not poor navigation but my dad conning us into a longer walk.

I however turned to whitewater kayaking, an activity no parent or extended family member had ever shown any interest in. Also climbing later on as an adult. That's my thrill seeking nature that I didn't realize I had growing up. I have a fear of heights so climbing really gave me a buzz!!!

My son has virtually none of the fears I have. Fearless is a good word for it but he's aware of risks and manages it well.

I think he'd really like to learn tracking but I really don't have the skillset to teach him. I can recognise a lot of signs but I kind of spot things a bit patchily. If anyone knows of a good tracking book for young children I think I'd be interested.

As for bushcraft, well for a few years now we've been meaning to introduce our son to wildcamping, we just didn't find the time with everything else. This year was finally n going to be the year then COVID happened.
 

Van-Wild

Full Member
Feb 17, 2018
785
619
42
UK
I have an 11 year old girl and a 7 year old boy. Both absolutely love the outdoors.

When my daughter was 8 or 9, we went tracking deer. I stalk deer, originally for meat but more so now to take pictures. It was the pictures that got her interested. We have tracked deer many times. My son also.

I'm an outdoors guy. I fish, I hunt, I spear fish (badly) and free dive (also badly). I wild camp, go on long walks in the mountains and I've encouraged my kids to do the same and I think that's the key. Encourage your kids but don't be a bore.... my son isn't a good swimmer at all, but I encouraged him to snorkel and now he loves hunting for animals under the water.....

Dont forget that excitement is infectious for kids. If youre genuinely excited about something they will be as well. And always carry some suger sweets in your pocket, or a chocolate bar, they help to keep morale up!

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May 20, 2020
9
13
32
Cambridge
Doesn’t anyone do Cubs/scouts any more? That’s where my love of the outdoors was fully developed and I’ve never looked back in 50 years.
My son, who recently turned 7, is just about to start beavers once lockdown is over. Hopefully he will love it and continue on to cubs, scouts etc. Then it'll be on to DoE! He loves camping and coming on walks round woodlands with me so I will definitely continue to nurture his interest.

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,032
895
Lancashire
Our son is probably in his last year of beavers. Beavers is just play with a bit of crafty or social awareness stuff. What I call social awareness is anything from good/bad foods, good/bad behaviour, awareness of nature at a basic level (hedgehogs being the main focus), etc. It's good but the traditional scouting stuff seems more cubs onwards.

Having said that I'm in the process of getting vetted for skills assistant. I've been passed as occasional helper with the dbs already completed. It's a very good organisation in the UK and our group had not long been 1 year in they're new hall with the indoor climbing wall now operational. Still work in progress on the surrounding land but it's a great community resource now. The group is now discussing creating twice the number of groups. Beavers is at maximum of 26 kids, a second group will allow 52 kids to be involved. Cubs doesn't have a waiting list but beavers and scouts do.

However they are not the same organisation as they were 50 years or even nearly 40 years ago when I was a cub. Child protection is a lot better as is activities. We did virtually nothing interesting. I was into knots but most kids weren't. There wasn't the opportunity for camp outs except once a year and one year was in the vicarage grounds so that's pretty lame. Our scouts group had leaders trained in mountain biking, shooting, archery, climbing, etc. A long list that's getting longer as the opportunity arises. The do have to use sea scout facilities and instructors for watersports though. That's why I got talked into skills assistant. I'm an experienced kayaker (whitewater mostly). No coach quale but I've helped out with club coaching and will have a head start on the scouts course I'd still have to do anyway. Situated next to a canal I reckon canoeing would be a very good activity I'm summer evenings for all sections.
 

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