Embrace Mother Nature on the Trail
As a kid I couldn’t wait to play outside. To run in the grass, chase butterflies, splash in the water, build castles or bury my feet in the sand. Outside, there was freedom from responsibility. The true joy of being alive. I didn’t know it then, but it was the essence of youthfulness.
What we can offer our kids now is a journey into nature filled with that same wonder, play, and mystery. When they see something for the first time, they ask what it is and why it is. We have the chance to educate their minds about birds, plants, wildlife, and foods and teach them survival skills that they’ll remember for life. So when they grow up, the Great Outdoors is magical. And instead of scary and confusing, navigating through the wilderness can be fun!
Next time your family goes on a hike or camping trip, try these tips and tricks for staying healthy and prepared. Plus, let your little one in on a secret motto below.
Pack and Prepare
Before any trip, it’s best to know where you’re headed and for how long. Hydration is key, no matter the temperature outside. When we’re hydrated, we stay alert and focused and are less likely to fatigue quickly. So pack a good water bottle for each camper that can be sipped from easily and often throughout the day. Best to pack nutritious snacks as well, as kids need to refuel to keep their energy up. Trail mix filled with granola, nuts, seeds, dried fruit or popcorn will give them a sweet ‘n’ salty protein punch. So will “ants on a log” - which can be made with celery sticks topped with either nut/seed butter and raisins, cream cheese and blueberries, or hummus and peppers. Pack some fruits as well like sliced apples, oranges, or banana. These naturally sweet treats are full of nutrients to keep kiddos satisfied without all the added sugar.
Good vs. Bad Plants
An important lesson in the Bay Area is what plants to touch and which to avoid. Blackberry plants are good plants and the berries are edible. They should taste sweet, so be sure to spit one out if it has a bitter taste. Otherwise, enjoy them as a sweet snack or pick some to bring home and make jam!
Poison oak can be found on all the hiking trails, and it’s no fun for you or your little one. Look out for an oak-like leaf that grows in sets of three leaves without thorns. They can be green or change colors with the seasons to red or reddish-brown. Teach kiddos the motto, “Leaves of three, don’t touch me!” And stay especially clear of poison oak if your skin isn’t completely covered by clothing.
Safeguard Sensitive Skin
Whether the day is cloudy or sky blue, the sun is a powerful source of heat and UV rays. So cover your kiddo’s head with a hat to prevent sunburn and protect their eyes. And shield their skin with a sunscreen made for sensitive skin (they’re delicate, after all). Before committing to a product, apply a small amount on the inside of their wrist to make sure no irritation forms. Ingredients like zinc oxide are gentle and protective; coconut oil, shea butter, and colloidal oatmeal are moisturizing; and chamomile is soothing for skin.
Stay healthy, safe, and have fun outdoors! And remember to pause often and take a few long, deep breaths to relish in the refreshing, nourishing medicine that Mother Nature provides.