Moving right along with our Spring Book series (let's just call it a series for fun) I've got a book review just in time to help you get outdoors more this spring and summer (and hopefully all year round) with your family.
Last summer when Damien and I went to Outdoor Retailer in Utah we were given a copy of Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids: A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors to read and review.
Good gracious it's taken me a long time to get around to writing this review. In my defense, it's good timing really since everyone has the outdoor itch during this season.
We are in the transition season between winter skiing and spring hiking
Outdoor Parents Outdoors Kids is an overview of different outdoor activities you can do with your kids. A humorous how-to guide for bringing your kids into the oudoors.
Eugene Buchanan wrote the book from a father's perspective, sharing his experience as an outdoorsy guy figuring out how to incorporate his children into his outdoor pursuits. To share with them his love for nature and outdoor sports. Buchanan includes a lot of other people's wisdom and experience to cover a wide variety of activities in this book.
If you've read FIMBY for any length of time you'll have picked up that we love being outdoors with our kids. It's a key part of who we are.
Our family started by hiking and car camping (with a tent). That grew into backpacking and a regular practice of one day a week outdoors together. And just this winter we started backcountry skiing (as well as using that same gear to ski at the local ski hill). You can read the story of how that all started here. We also have a Family Outdoors resource page.
But back to the book. Buchanan covers the activities I mentioned above and more. Bicycling (around the neighborhood or touring), swimming (think snorkeling, surfing as well as swim team), climbing, fishing, padding, etc.
Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids is a comprehensive overview, as well as an amusing read, for what you can do outdoors with your kids beyond nature walks, especially if you already love the outdoors and aren't afraid to do the extra work required to bring kids into that love. Because let's face it, going backpacking or having a paddle adventure with kids isn't an easy walk in the park, though it is very well worth the effort.
I think Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids is best read as an introductory book to enjoying the outdoors (beyond the neighborhood soccer field) with your kids. If you want to pursue in depth any of the activities he writes about you will need to do more reading and research.
The other point worth mentioning is that most families can't financially afford to try all the options Buchanan writes about. The gear required for a whole family to do these activities, even to rent the gear for a day or weekend, is expensive. Most of us are going to have to pick and choose from these options and for that reason I found the book a bit too broad. But then again, it's an overview.
If you are just starting out on this path of family outdoors you'll probably want pick an inexpensive activity, like hiking or maybe cycling if you already all own bikes, and slowly build from there. Most of us will not be investing in backcountry tents, roadbikes, kayaks, a canoe, a jogging stroller, fishing poles, skis etc.
Our approach was to start simple and slowly over years add to our activities and gear. We've been hiking every week, all year round for years now and just this year we started skiing as a winter activity. It didn't happen overnight.
The book is a great introduction to a bunch of outdoor sports and activites and it's funny to boot. There are lots of stories and ideas to get you thinking but it might overwhelm an outdoor novice family. There are no gear lists or in-depth instructions.
My personal (unsolicited) advice is start simple and go from there. As a parent be open to new experiences and invite your children into that but also share with them those things you already love and do.
If you are interested in going deeper into Family Outdoors we've started a subscription forum for that very purpose. Click here to read more.
And if you want a good overview to the possibilities of the fun stuff you can do with your kids outdoors check out Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids.