Journeys and Outings for Families
Every time you venture away from home with your kids, you have an opportunity to expand their understanding and appreciation of the natural world. The next time you have a free afternoon or week with your kids, consider doing something on the wilder side. The tips below can help you get started.
- Stop by your local bookstore or library and pick up guides to area hiking trails, rivers, and other natural areas. The National Audubon Society Field Guides to different regions of the country (New England, Pacific Northwest, California, and so on) provide excellent overviews of local ecosystems as well as lists of great places to visit in each region. You may be surprised to discover how many wild places can easily be reached for a half-day or full-day outing. You might consider:
- Taking a beach walk, especially during the off-season
- Exploring tide pools
- Hiking through fields or forests
- Apple or berry picking
- Paddling a canoe through a marsh
- Swimming at a lake or river
- Cross-country skiing on woodland trails or open hills
- If you're reluctant to explore new places by yourself, consider joining an organized expedition. Many nature centers offer regular guided hikes and outings, from early morning bird walks to nighttime stargazing.
- Consider joining in a service project that gets you and your family outdoors doing something positive for the environment. Cleaning up rivers and beaches, restoring trails, or helping remove invasive plants are all excellent ways of getting fresh perspectives on the natural world while developing new friendships.
- Camping out is a great way for kids to discover the thrill of the outdoors. And you don't have to backpack to the mountains to enjoy some of these benefits. Consider pitching a tent in your backyard one night and sleeping outside together as a family.
If your child is old enough to attend camp, consider choosing one that maximizes time outdoors. Younger campers can often attend day camps at farms or nature centers. Elementary age kids can venture near or far to camps that emphasize swimming, hiking, camping, and outdoor skills. High school and college age kids are old enough for true wilderness adventures, whether hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or biking. Whatever your child's age, be sure to choose the kind of camp that he or she is most interested in. Select a size, style, and distance that matches his or her needs. And remember, a camp doesn't have to emphasize science or environmental stewardship to help foster lifelong love of nature. Audubon Camps offer great outdoor experiences for all ages.
- Consider taking a vacation to one or more of our national parks. Many have lodging suitable for families and offer many day and evening programs for visitors.
- Wherever you travel, consider spending some time exploring local ecosystems. Even if you visit a city, you and your kids will get a lot out of a short trip into the country for walking, swimming, or hiking.
- You might also want to investigate organized family camps or camping trips. Some provide the ease of base camp accommodations with the excitement of daytrips and classes. Others venture into scenic natural areas with experienced guides.