Family vacations often mean a boatmans holiday for Greg Schute. Wilderness Trip Director for the Chewonki Foundation, an outdoor-education center in Maine, his business trips include canoe tours.
Yet when family vacation time rolls around, youre likely to find Schute, his wife, and their four-year-old son paddling the rivers of Maine. Its great to be outdoors as a family, he says. To see [places] through the eyes of a child brings a whole different perspective.
You neednt be a professional guide to enjoy family trips in the great outdoors with children. But parents should follow some common sense guidelines to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience. Schute offers the following suggestions:
- Dont overestimate your own ability. A lot of folks will get into a situation that theyre not really prepared to handle.
- Become proficient yourself, before you venture into the outdoors with younger children.
- Underestimate the miles you will cover in any given time when planning outdoor travels. What we would do as adults, cut down by more than half.
- Budget your time to allow for plenty of stops along the way, whether hiking, paddling, or skiing.
- Learn first aid, preferably wilderness first aid. Courses are widely available.
- Begin modestly. A half-day trip makes a good starting point.
- Ensure your child has proper gear. This includes good raingear and footwear, clothing that dries quickly (synthetics and synthetic blends rather than solid cotton), and protection appropriate for the season and clime such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.
Great Outdoor Recreation Pages (GORP)Family
From features to forums, get family travel information on this Alaska-size site.
National Ski Patrol
Learn how to dress for outdoor activities and find safety advice, course offerings, and contact information.
From sea kayaking to mountaineering, this wilderness-skills institute offers instruction throughout the U.S. and beyond.
SOLO Wilderness Emergency Medicine
A teaching institute in Conway, New Hampshire, offers courses in backcountry and marine emergency medicine.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Kids Page
Learn how to make outdoor excursions with children both safe and entertaining.
Wilderness Medical Associates
Get wilderness emergency medicine instruction, from single-day seminars to multiweek courses at this center in Bryant Pond, Maine.
Wilderness Medicine Institute
The Pitkin, Colorado, institute offers instruction in various places and sells books through its Web site.
Wilderness Safety & Emergency Care Home Page
Princeton Universitys Outdoor Action Program provides materials and links on wilderness safety and emergency care.
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Kids: Outdoor Travel