Kiwi kids are always up for adventure – it’s just a part of our culture. And our kids here in New Zealand are lucky to have easy access to the bush, parks, beaches, scouting groups and, quite often, a proper backyard. Make use of these natural opportunities to experience a little adventure!
1. Tree climbing
Climbing trees is an excellent adventure for girls and boys to enjoy together. Before you know it, a couple of hours will have passed playing games among the branches and leaves. But in this day and age, climbing trees comes with a serious set of safety strings and alarm bells attached… For adults! What parent has not experienced a quickening of pulse when they see their small child perched up a tree, calling, “Look at me, Mummy!” To your child, however, the tree represents a wonderful natural opportunity to test his or her skills, to be brave and courageous, to scale previously unknown heights and, intentionally or otherwise, freak adults out. Learning to climb trees is rather like learning to walk – the more you do it, the better you become, so it figures that we should encourage our children to climb safely to avoid unnecessary accidents.
2. Building the ultimate treehouse
Children love the fun that a treehouse can provide. Give them the opportunity, and they will be playing with family and friends for hours on end up there! Building your ultimate treehouse can be a fun activity you and your child can do together as a bonding experience. Having a treehouse inspires imaginative play, builds strength, encourages kids to play outside more, increases social skills, and provides kids with exercise.
Check out Pinterest for ideas on treehouse construction from simple to complex, and then pop down to your local hardware store for some supplies. For something a little more interactive, build an obstacle course with your tree as the centrepoint.
3. Picking fruits and vegetables
Getting your kids to help in the garden is a fun adventure for all ages. Gardening develops in your children positive attitudes towards the environment and healthy living. It captures their interest, as well as giving them as sense of pride in their accomplishments, and helps them to see the value of patience and hard work.
Getting them to help with things such as planting seeds, pulling weeds, and digging holes are all simple things they can do from young ages. Plus kids love an excuse to get dirty! Get your kids to help harvest the fruits and vegetables from your garden, and then work together to cook a meal, blend a smoothie, or make fresh-squeezed lemonade. If you don’t have a garden patch, taking your children strawberry- or blueberry-picking is another fun activity where they can even eat their way through the task.
Fishing is a great outdoor activity, and our abundant waterways have some great fishing spots. Fishing teaches children patience while waiting for the fish to bite, which is an eminently useful skill for later in life. It also provides a good opportunity to talk about and experience water safety in action.
At the same time, fishing also gives adults an awesome opportunity to have an unhurried conversation with your child – as everyday life is so busy, it’s good to have the chance to take some time out and really talk to your kids (and having something else to do at the same time often encourages reserved children to open up more, as they don’t feel so much pressure to talk). In addition, fishing teaches children where the food they eat comes from, while also reinforcing valuable survival skills. This is a great idea to do during any season, so grab your fishing rod and some bait and cast a line.
5. Making a campfire
There’s nothing like getting your family and friends together on a cool night to sit around a campfire and talk, sing, and laugh. Roast marshmallows on sticks and eat them between two plain biscuits with a bit of chocolate, sing traditiona campfire songs, tell spooky stories, and snuggle up to watch the mesmerising flames together.
Building a campfire teaches children fire safety principles at the same time they’re learning survival skills – talk about all the layers of the campfire, why you need dry wood, and how to start a flame without matches. It’s a fun outdoor activity that builds memories. (A safety note: Make sure to always have buckets of water and a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach, and only build fires where it’s permitted.)
More adventures from tots to teens: