I grew up as a city kid, who began loving the great outdoors somewhere in my teen years. When I became a mum, I decided I wanted to bring up my children differently. No endless tuition classes, no TV (well..ok, yes when at grandma's place), limited computer time and no PSP or whatever you call those games. Call me old fashioned, I don't care.
When my first was born, I had her in a sarong (baby carrier) strapped to me whenever I went for long walks. I used to talk to her and point out things that we saw along the way. When she could walk, she never sat in a pram longer then 5 minutes. Strapping her in was tough!! Thus, as a young toddler, she'd walk with me, 200 metres at first and then longer and longer distances. At age 2 plus, she walked 1.5 KM uphill to see a lighthouse with me (I love lighthouses!). I didn't force her too, but she chose to. From then on, she's always told me, "I love walks, I love trekking, I love nature." She's passionate bout animals and wants to be a vet. Her favourite activity? walking, trekking.
My second is Different. From the time she could walk, she still chose to remain glued to the pram or me. However, she does love the great outdoors. The difference is that while my oldest loves to trek, this one loves to explore without much walking. The outdoors is a great playground for her which is full of lovely unexpected surprises. She gathers twigs, flowers, sand, mud...anything she can get her hands on, to create her imaginary play world. She's also the braver one when it comes to creepy crawlies. To date, the list of things she's caught with her bare hands is rather impressive for a 5+ year old. She's caught cicadas, roaches, snails, worms, grasshoppers, RATS!, leaf and stick insects. Impressive right? She will whine on trails! she still whines, but despite all the whining, she's made it to the end of every trail we've been on.
To date, our longest trek would be in Endau Rompin, three hours of steep climb in, and 3 hours out. If this little person can, so can your children!
I know some parents are hesitant, afraid when it comes to nature walks. I often hear this "wait till my child is a little older." Thing is, once they're older they'll find the great outdoors boring, coz they would've gotten addicted to their TV and playstation. They'll say "it's hot, yucky, boring etc." So, I'd recommend that parents get them interested from young instead.
I remember starting mine early by allowing them to JUMP in puddles of rain water in a wet wet field after the rain, Walking bare footed over grassy fields and muddy paths. Catching insects for them to observe or stopping to watch a little bug cross the road, standing still on trails asking them to listen to the sound of nature, birdwatching with them etc. Slowly..my children began to love it. Nature has much to offer..it's a wonderful learning ground, I believe it helps your child develop confidence in him/herself. It helps a child feel, see, listen, observe and think in a whole new way.
If you're a nervous parent, try to relax and enjoy the trip yourself, or go for a simple trail first like the ones in FRIM or Frasers Hill and remember to enjoy.
Things to bring on a nature trip with children:
-Drinking water/energy drink
- Energy food
- Junk food (for motivation),
- First aid
- Mosquito repellant
- Wet wipes and tissue
Once all set, enjoy your adventure.
@Martha Neverland, 2011.