Tag Archives: tips on taking children outdoors

October 16, 2017 Rock climbing at Idaho's City of Rock National Reserve.

To My Kids: Yes, the Worst Can Happen. Be Careful Out There

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Hi Nate and Alex,

There was a tragic story in the news recently of yet another accomplished young climber who’s now dead. He actually survived an avalanche that killed his girlfriend while they were backcountry skiing in Montana, but he could not endure the avalanche of grief and pain that followed. He took his own life the next day. He was 27, his girlfriend was 23. They were both way too young. It’s unspeakably awful.

This story will probably fly off your radar soon, I know. But I can’t avoid thinking about that terrible double tragedy. For me, it’s a stark reminder of the inherent danger in many outdoor activities I’ve done with you two since you were little—a danger only magnified if we let all that’s fun and rewarding about what we do blind us to the darker reality. A story like this one throws a harsh light on a contradiction I’ve grappled with since you both could walk: The very experiences I know are helping shape you into wonderful young adults also pose a real risk to you. Continue reading →

July 16, 2017 White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   9 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“That sounds totally boring.” “Other parents don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to do.” “I hate (fill in the activity).” If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard these responses from your child, or any of an infinite number of variations on them—like a personal favorite that my son, at 14, laid on me: “You get to choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.” If you’re trying to persuade a teen to get outdoors with you—which these days often entails pulling him or her away from an electronic screen to engage in physical activity for hours—your child can summon powers of resistance that conjure mental images of Superman stopping a high-speed train.

Even though my kids, now 16 and 14, have dayhiked and backpacked hundreds of miles, paddled whitewater rivers and waters from Alaska’s Glacier Bay to Florida’s Everglades, and cross-country skied and rock climbed since they were preschoolers, we still sometimes encounter blowback to our plans to do something outdoors. But we’re usually still successful, and our kids look forward to most of our adventures. Here are the reasons why. Continue reading →

June 19, 2017 My kids hiking the Gunsight Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

A Survival Guide For the Outdoors Lover Who’s a New Parent

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

So, you’ve been an avid [circle all appropriate terms: hiker/backpacker/climber/trail runner/skier/kayaker] for years, and now you’re spending big chunks of your days changing diapers and your nights wondering when you’ll sleep again. You’ve never gone this long without getting out into the mountains, and you see no remedy for that shortfall in the foreseeable future. Your new baby is more wonderful than you’d ever imagined—and yet, you’re feeling a little despair over what’s missing from your life lately.

I know where your head is right now. And I have good news for you: I’ve seen the bright light at the end of the tunnel, and you can get there faster than you might think. Here’s how. Continue reading →

April 24, 2017 Jacob Hamblin Arch, Coyote Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.

10 Tips For Keeping Kids Happy and Safe Outdoors

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   11 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Some people might say my wife and I are bad parents. We’ve repeatedly and deliberately placed our kids—at young ages—in risky situations. And I’m not talking about letting them ride their bikes without wearing helmets (which, admittedly, would be insane) or frequently taking them to McDonald’s (and what kind of parent would do that?!).

I’m talking about setting out with seven- and four-year-old kids to cross-country ski through a snowstorm for hours to a backcountry yurt. Tying a six-year-old into a rope and letting him or her rock climb a cliff. Rappelling into slot canyons. Backpacking into the remotest and most rugged wildernesses in the contiguous United States, from the Grand Canyon to the Tetons to Glacier National Park. Continue reading →

March 16, 2017 Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   108 Comments

By Michael Lanza

As we neared Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park, on the middle day of a three-day family backpacking trip, a man and woman in their fifties stopped to talk with us. They sized up our kids and smiled; Nate was nine and Alex was seven. “We’re impressed!” they told us. “We never had any luck trying to get our kids to backpack when they were young.” We chatted a bit and then headed off in opposite directions on the trail.

After they were out of earshot, Alex turned to me, wanting to clarify a point: “You didn’t get us to do this,” she told me. “We wanted to do it.” Her words, of course, warmed my heart. But her comment also spotlighted the biggest lesson for parents hoping to raise their kids to love the outdoors: Create experiences that make them eager to go out again the next time. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker