Want to start getting outside but don't really know where to start or what to do or what you need or where to go?! Phwew. It's okay - take a deep breath. There are so many resources at your fingertips for you to get all the information that you need!
No one knows everything, especially not right when they are first starting. We are all beginners in the beginning, duh! There will be a learning curve, embrace it. Hell, laugh at it if you want! One time, we went camping at Inks Lake and the ground was too rocky for me to push in the tent stakes with my hand like I normally did. I didn't own a mallet yet so I tried to find anything I possibly could to get the damn stakes in the ground. Our tent had zero structure without being staked down - it was a one pole tent that didn't stand unless it was staked! We would have been sleeping in the car if I wasn't able to overcome this situation that I wasn't prepared for! I did finally get them in with a rock (after bending multiple cheap stakes) and proceeded to purchase some high quality stakes and a mallet as soon as we got home.
Point being, you're going to have snafus. It's inevitable. It's part of learning. Embrace them and know that they aren't the end of the world. To ease any hesitations you might have, here are some great ways to ease into making outdoor explorations a regular part of your family routine!
No need to go on a 10 mile hike or week long camping trip for your first attempt. A great way to start getting outside and exploring is to just do it in your neighborhood or at a local park! You can still find birds, bugs, plants, and more without going far or getting overwhelmed! You can find great local parks with a simple Google search of "local parks near _______" and include your location. Local parks are great for bike riding, walking, observing nature, playing sports, and more!
Another great way to get your feet wet in nature in a safe and controlled way is to attend a guided program! Most Texas State Parks offer some form of interpretive programming - you can look for events on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Event Calendar to find something near you that seems interesting! Many of the listings detail out what you need to bring, what kind of shoes to wear, etc so that you can come prepared appropriately! It's great to start learning about outdoor recreation by being with an experienced person that is literally there to show you what to do, help you, and answer all of your burning questions!
TEXAS OUTDOOR FAMILY
For a long time, working for Texas Outdoor Family was my dream job. Then, I became a parent and it wasn't feasible for me to be away so often, but I am still a huge supporter for this program and what it does! For anyone who isn't familiar with this program, it is a introductory workshop that takes people camping, often times for the first time! If you're sort of on the fence about whether or not you're going to even like camping, this is a great way to figure that out without having to invest in a bunch of gear. They provide the tent, cots, sleeping pads, lanterns, stoves, and cooking supplies! All you have to bring is bedding, any personal items, and food (and your sense of adventure of course!). You'll learn how to pitch a tent, build a fire, and cook outdoors, plus a wide variety of outdoor activities, including geocaching, kayaking, hiking, swimming, fishing.... the list goes on and on! Activities vary in each workshop. Workshops are offered all over the state and at $95 for up to six people it's a pretty affordable way to give the outdoors a try!
Wander Wheels is another great company that helps you get outside without having to invest in a ton of gear! They've got loads of information on their website AND they offer gear rental so you can get on the trails or out camping without having to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment! We are considering renting a backpacking tent from their for our first trip. Honestly, we should have rented packs, too, instead of buying them just so we could give backpacking a try without too much money on the line, but we had the REI gift card and felt pretty confident we'd enjoy it so we made the investment.
There are SO many amazing resources online that can help you learn more about nature and outdoor recreation! Some of my favorites are:
If you have any recommendations on excellent resources to add to this list, let me know!
Getting outside doesn't have to be scary or intense or overwhelming! It doesn't have to be extreme or expensive or exhausting. Experiment with some small activities and work your way up, keeping what works and what is enjoyable and nixing the stuff that isn't! And, as always, if you have any questions, my electronic door is always open!