family building

The Unmistakable Benefits of Outdoor Family Adventure

Could outdoor family adventure be the antidote to all of our problems? Yours and mine?

When our family isn’t regularly adventuring, I feel it on my nervous system—this itch, this annoyance that I can’t quite pinpoint, this nagging dissatisfaction with life as a whole.

Then we get outdoors, we marvel at the world God created for us, and my soul finds itself back at rest.

It’s the simplest but most distinct fix.

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Have you experienced the benefits for your family? Have you felt how getting outside can turn your whole weekend around?

I bet you have, but in case you need a little convincing, here are seven reasons outdoor family adventure has come to mean so much to us.

If you want a family that prioritizes personal connection over digital connection—and so much more—check out these 7 benefits of outdoor family adventure!

7 Unmistakable Benefits of Outdoor Family Adventure

1. It is when our family is at our best.

The sense of adventure, that feeling of never quite knowing what’s around the next corner, seems to bring out the best in each of us as individuals. We’re alive and aware and way too engaged in the moment to sweat the petty stuff.

2. It restores our sense of wonder and puts everything back into perspective. 

To build off #1, how can you feel down or stressed or dissatisfied when you’re staring at the ocean or a mountain range or a canyon cut into the earth? The wonder of nature always puts our problems back into perspective, and I’m left feeling one thing: grateful to be alive.

More on the power of wonder—The Benefit of Simple Living that No One Talks About

7 Benefits of Outdoor Family Adventure

3. It helps my husband and I get back in touch with our more playful selves. 

When I’m outdoors with my husband, I suddenly remember the 23-year-old guy I fell in love with. Maybe it’s because we dated at the base of the Rocky mountains? Whatever the reason, I like it. 🙂

Adventuring together helps me feel like my more carefree, pre-parent self again (even if we do have three kids behind us in the minivan these days!).

Plus, I believe in the value of play, and I want to live so that my kids remember parents who danced, laughed, chased seagulls, and did spot-on animal sounds. Yessss.

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.” Roald Dahl

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.” Roald Dahl | The Benefits of Outdoor Family Adventure

4. It makes screen time seem boring. 

My husband has always said that our solution to the problem of balancing screen time and real life shouldn’t be to throw all our weight into limiting it; it should be to throw all our weight into offering the kids way cooler things to do. 🙂 To focus less on what they can’t do—and focus more on what they can do.

A Saturday watching Netflix… or a Saturday mastering your dirt bike? A Wednesday afternoon on the iPad or a Wednesday afternoon on a paddle board? So far, it hasn’t been a tough choice around here. 🙂

If you want a family that prioritizes personal connection over digital connection—and so much more—check out these 7 benefits of outdoor family adventure!

5. It gives our children confidence.

I know that all kinds of research supports this, but all I need is my own experience to show me what an impact adventure can have on a child’s self-concept. Last fall, our boys (ages 7 & 5) hiked TEN miles with 2,000 feet in elevation gain, landing them at 10,000 feet in the sky.

Since then, there hasn’t been a single week where this hasn’t come up in conversation. Between this and our other outdoor adventures, they believe that they can do hard things. More on this here: {Let Them Learn} and {Encouraging Young Adventurers}

If you want a family that prioritizes personal connection over digital connection—and so much more—check out these 7 benefits of outdoor family adventure!

6. It’s a way our children want to spend time with us. 

Outdoor adventure doesn’t mean you have to hike 2,000 vertical feet or buy a dune buggy. You can tailor it to you family’s interests, and it can be as simple as pulling over to explore a field of wildflowers or taking a picnic to a nearby lake.

But finding things your kids—especially as they grow—WANT to do with you? Golden.

If you want a family that prioritizes personal connection over digital connection—and so much more—check out these 7 benefits of outdoor family adventure!

7. It becomes an integral part of our family culture.

If you want a family that values both playfulness and calculated risk-taking… If you want a family made up of people who are willing to try, stumble, and try again… If you want a family that prioritizes personal connection over digital connection… Make outdoor adventure a part of your family culture.

I won’t say it’s the only way to achieve those things, but it will definitely be the most fun.


For more on building a family identity that matches who you are, I’d love for you to check out my ebook.

How to Craft a Family Purpose Statement: A guide to discovering the "why" of your family and building an identity that will stay with your children forever

How to Craft a Family Purpose Statement: A guide to discovering the “why” of your family and building an identity that will stay with your children forever

11 Comments

  • Reply
    Lorie S
    April 15, 2016 at 8:59 am

    I completely agree with this. And I have said the same thing about screen time. I am determined to create more fun by being outdoors playing and creating and exploring than any boring screen time would be for them. 🙂

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      April 15, 2016 at 9:20 am

      Yes! I love looking at it this way rather than obsessing over the number of minutes they can or cannot use a device for.

      Have a great weekend, girl!

    • Reply
      Ronnie
      June 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

      What worked for me was to agree with the negative one. I assured her she did not have to go along on a walk with me. I left with a clean plastic jar with lid. I returned with little seeds, leaves, rocks, and a feather inside. Upon my return I got out the crafty stuff and let the questions begin……what is that? where did you go? what are you doing?
      Next day I did not invite anyone to go for a walk. I got out a big plastic baggie and by the time I was putting on my shoes I heard the beautiful questions….Can I go? Can I take a jar?

      • Reply
        Erica Layne
        June 13, 2016 at 10:07 am

        Ronnie, this is amazing! Such a great illustration of leading by example that I think, with a bit of creativity, can be applied to so many parenting dilemmas. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Erin
    April 15, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I would love some thoughts on getting past the complaining crying, whining – our girls are 3 and 4.5 and even if we try to go for a walk to the park we are met with whining, complaining and often dig in your heels refusing to walk and sitting in the middle of the sidewalk not moving.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      April 15, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      Hi Erin! Such a great (and I think universal!) question. Let’s see… Have you tried phrasing your outings as wild adventures? It reminds me of how when our family gets family pictures taken, I try to tell the kids to think of it as if we’re just going to explore somewhere new and fun together. It’s just a tiny mind trick that seems to help them focus on the positive (rather than the smiling at the camera part). Maybe continually re-framing your outings as adventures and painting your family as great explorers could do something similar for you (help your littles focus on the fun rather than the tough/boring parts, like the actual walk to the park). 🙂

      Totally just an idea—and you’ve probably already tried it! Best of luck, girl! Man, kids. Always throwing us for a loop. 😉

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      April 15, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      Oh and one more tidbit, for what it’s worth. I always try to remind myself, “everything is a phase.” That just seems to be how raising kids goes. EVERYthing is a phase, and the next phase is upon us before we even realize it. 🙂

      • Reply
        Erin
        April 21, 2016 at 5:32 pm

        Thanks for the reply Erica. As much as I have tried in the past I think it needs to be tried again – and perhaps on days where I am not shoemrt on sleep! We are going to try Geox aching this summer, hoping that making adventures into treasure hunts might make the difference!

  • Reply
    10 Benefits Kids Gain From An UN-BUSY Life
    April 22, 2016 at 10:10 am

    […] I want my children to know nature—to feel the crunch of dried pine needles under their shoes, to take in the view from the upper branches of a tree—so that they can grow to love it. For us, that simply means making the time to get outdoors. […]

  • Reply
    10 Benefits Kids Gain From An UnBusy Life – Becoming UnBusy
    January 4, 2017 at 8:17 am

    […] I want my children to know nature—to feel the crunch of dried pine needles under their shoes, to take in the view from the upper branches of a tree—so that they can grow to love it. For us, that simply means making the time to get outdoors. […]

  • Reply
    Dennis L. Ward
    April 20, 2017 at 5:19 am

    Wow…the kids are enjoying the view of sky lying on the beach sand…it looks good.
    Thanks for sharing.

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