The outdoor school of life lessons for little tykes
Some people think, or have been told, that when they become parents their outdoor lifestyle inevitably slows or halts altogether. That’s just not the case- nor does it have to be. I encourage parents to continue their outdoor lifestyle and teach their tykes to embrace it along the way.
There are so many things young tykes learn when out on adventures. They aren't just trudging up a hill, just sleeping in a tent or just skiing down a slope. Tykes are not only learning about the natural world around them, they are learning about themselves. They learn self-confidence, pride, failure, doubt, disappointment, frustration, the feeling of accomplishment and so much more.
We have witnessed all of these emotions with J-Man during our adventures.
During one particular outing in Arizona he hiked 4.9 miles from the Peralta trailhead to the Fremont Saddle that overlooks Weavers Needle. The hike was the hardest J-Man had ever done with over 1,300ft. of elevation gain. Hiking can be much harder for little legs, small boulders that adults can step up and over requires tykes to scramble and climb over. J-Man had to scramble, climb and maneuver big rocks along the trail, which can tire tykes out quicker than their parents.
During the hike J-Man took numerous rest breaks. Elevation gain like that is a lot for little legs, so we allowed him to rest when needed. Encouraging words were given when he doubted his ability to continue on, praise was given when he reached the destination and a huge smile beamed across his face when he realized he had made it. The goal we had been shooting for was accomplished.
J-Man also learned about disappointment and consequences while hiking a loop in Grand Teton National Park. He wanted to goof around during the hike and walk slower than usual, disregarding our warnings that if we kept up a slow pace we wouldn't make it to our destination. Well, the time ticked away and before we made it to the lake we needed to turn around and head back to the trailhead. He was quite disappointed we didn't reach the lake and showed much frustration. We explained the reason why we had to turn around, however, from the tantrum he was throwing it was a good indication he didn’t understand.
The next day we set out to hike to a different lake and made it all the way. J-Man even had time to skinny dip. Lesson learned? Maybe!
During a backpacking trip J-Man had the self-confidence to lead the way, decide on rest breaks and to choose which direction to take at the fork in the trail. He was also confident about identifying the wildflowers along the trail and sharing his knowledge of them.
These are some of the reasons why we get J-Man out hiking, camping, backpacking, along with all the other outdoor activities. He is learning about himself and learning lessons that can never be taught in the classroom.
About Deuter Ambassadors Bret and Melissa Edge
The Edge Family - Bret, Melissa and Jackson - were born for adventure. Bret and Melissa gave up on corporate life in 2006 and moved to the adventure mecca of Moab, Utah to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle in beautiful Canyon Country. Bret and Melissa were avid hikers, backpackers and mountain bikers when Jackson was born in 2009 and they didn't waste any time introducing him to outdoor adventure. He went hiking at 6 weeks, spent two weeks camping in the Tetons and Yellowstone at 3 months old, did his first backpacking trip in Glacier National Park at 16 months and by the time he was 2, the Edge Family had explored 7 national parks together. Melissa shares her passion as an outdoor parent on her website, www.adventuretykes.com, where she strives to inspire new parents to get outside and into nature with their kids. Bret is a professional landscape and adventure photographer, as well as owner of The Edge Gallery, in downtown Moab.