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Exploring a Nature-based Family Vacation

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November 1, 2013
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ExploringNatureBasedFamilyVacation blogThe 6-year-old chuckled at the sight as if he was watching his favorite cartoon. The entertainment wasn't coming from a monitor, but from a yearling deer playfully bouncing around its mother feeding near an empty campsite. For some kids, witnessing nature in its splendor is nothing new, but for others it may be an introduction that is long overdue. For most of our culture, artificial, electronic amusement is the norm.

If your family could use a dose of reality, then it's time for a nature vacation. Experiencing a vacation focused around nature is a great way to charge the soul's batteries — of all ages.

A nature vacation can be as short as an hour-long walk in a park, but a more fruitful trip stems from a multi-day excursion. The possibilities are endless, from state and national parks, local conservation/widlife areas, and private campgrounds. Once the time slot is confirmed, choose a destination that will fit the schedule with plenty of time for interaction with the flora and fauna of the target area.

When creating the packing list, be sure to include an ample supply of food, especially snacks, to pacify the hungry explorers. Part of the fun for kids is packing a small backpack prior to heading out to the "wilderness". Add to that pack a digital camera, snacks, binoculars, and a notepad. Encourage the young explorer to photograph and scribble a few documentary notes while on their expedition to share later with grandpa and grandma or friends and teachers. Make a few notes yourself to reflect on later when the kids leave the nest.

Weather can cancel or change a trip in short notice, but preparing for any conditions will ensure a pleasant experience that will be looked back on as an "I want to do that again" type of trip. Although, the natural world is always busy at some capacity regardless of the weather. A short drive through the park will likely reveal some natural observation, rain or shine.

Taking it slow why observing wildlife and picturesque views, stopping briefly and waiting for the kids to let you know when it's time to move on keeps it interesting. Explaining to the kids what they are seeing in an entertaining and humorous manner instead of a strict classroom approach works best in building sincere interest. True success of a nature vacation is revealed on returning home. If you hear the young travelers sharing their experiences with others, then you were victorious. Vacations are for getting away from it all. A nature vacation is for getting back to it all.

Robert Loewendick

Robert Loewendick is a freelance outdoor writer and guidebook author with work regularly published in magazines, newspapers and websites, both in the U.S. and in Canada. Spending days and nights surrounded by the natural world is not a hobby, but instead a lifestyle for Loewendick. Whether fly-fishing a mountain stream or cruising a Great Lake for angling adventures, hiking miles of tame trails or wild ones, paddling calm lakes or running rapids, Loewendick's days outdoors regularly end at a campsite. His award-winning writing has earned him active memberships in Outdoor Writers Association of America and Outdoor Writers of Ohio. 

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