Whilst some would argue that parenthood is life’s ultimate adventure, having children should never hinder your exploration of nature’s theme park. If anything, it should enhance them. After all, the sooner you get the kids rocking down a cliff-face on a mountain bike, the sooner they’ll be sharing your passion for sheer drops and killer views.
Team-building exercises are a great way to develop a strong sense of adventure in children. However, like anything in life, there are good and bad ways to encourage them and it’s all too easy to waste the fleeting sunshine by pushing the kids too hard. With this in mind, take a look at these tips for outdoorsy team-building escapades. Hopefully, with a bit of forethought, your children will be bitten by a lifelong love of adventure in no time.
1. HAVE FUN
This is all too easily overlooked. Without fun, you get no buy-in from the children and naturally, the end effect will be the direct opposite of your intentions. Of course, what constitutes fun is totally subjective. One child’s penchant for abseiling is another’s love of impromptu fashion shows. As such, it’s wise to take a quick straw poll beforehand. Water-sports (like those offered by Kingswood’s Adventure Choice) are a good way to level the playing field. Raft-building, pond-dipping, kayaking or even a set of organised beach games get children participating in outdoorsy fun without even knowing it.
2. BE FLEXIBLE
Obviously, when setting a team-based task, there needs to be an end-goal clearly mapped out. There should be purpose and direction. However, as we all know, imposing too much rigidity upon an adventure will dry it out. Set goals, sure, but add incentives (prizes of some description or forfeits for the runners-up?) and make sure that you’re ready if the adventure goes off trail – which is more than likely with young children who have a tendency to explore/throw tantrums.
The best thing is to retain an open mind and be ready to adapt. Whilst hot-footing it up a mountain face might seem like a blissful day out to you, the little darling strapped to your back is less than likely to agree and they’ll soon let you know about it.
If your kids feel like they have a role to play, a responsibility, then they’ll be much more receptive to the challenges up ahead. Perhaps they could help you pack the lunch or look after the bike pump? Maybe it’s their job to check the kit list every day or look after their little sisters backpack? This might sound like a no-brainer, but the sooner you start treating your kids like little adventurers, the sooner they’ll respond in kind. Children love to feel important and grown up.
4. TAKE A STEP BACK
Whilst being flexible, collaborative and fun, it’s also a good idea to let your junior explorers take the lead once in a while. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve gone on a green-trail family mountain biking trip and you’ve been fastidiously following the designated path. However, up ahead there’s an unexpected obstruction. A tree has fallen. You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, oh no, you’ll have to go through it! You get the idea. Let your kids make the decision and watch as their love of adventure blossoms on the dirt track.
Like it or not, one of the most important things about adventure is the independence and problem solving it encourages. If you want to raise children that have walking boots welted into the soles of their feet, you need to put them in the right environment and then leave them to it (metaphorically of course). No one is ever passionate about something they’ve been forced into. Given the space to define their adventure, your children will own the experience and the passion, rather than feeling like it’s an extension of their parent’s interests.
Do you have any tips to nurture little adventurers?