Grandchildren are full of fun and surprises—they keep you feeling young, and give you the chance to see the world through their eyes. It goes without saying they’re bursting with life and energy.
They’re also great motivation to get outside, stay active, and connect with the outdoors.
While getting outside can sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re comfortable, that your grandchildren are on board, and that everyone has fun in nature, whatever that may look like. It may start with a good pair of sneakers and end with a backyard campout under the stars or it might mean watching your grandchild try a new trick on their prized skateboard.
Whatever it looks like for you, here are six tips for getting outside more often with the younger generation.
1. Buy a Good Pair of Sneakers
It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a long-term trip or a walk around the block; nothing will carry you further on outdoor adventures than a solid pair of sneakers.
Your local department store will carry a wide selection, but it would be worthwhile to check out a store that specializes in running and walking shoes. Employees at these stores may monitor your gait, ask about your preferred activities, and make a recommendation geared toward your unique needs—like how much support you may require and what you’ll use the shoe for (running, hiking, walking, and so forth).
You may pay a bit more, but a good pair of sneakers generally offers a more comfortable fit and lasts longer than most casual shoes.
2. Find a Good Walking Stick
Every outdoor adventurer’s secret weapon is the humble walking stick. You’ll find everything from basic wooden sticks to trekking poles of cork and carbon (which may retail for $200 or more per pair). You may even be able to find a sturdy stick out on the trail, but there is never any guarantee you’ll find a good one. Whatever you choose, a walking stick should be an essential part of your outdoor repertoire.
The benefits of a solid hiking stick are many: It reduces impact on your knees and legs, making each outing a little less painful and a bit more enjoyable; helps mitigate balance issues; improves circulation; and makes it slightly easier to cross uneven surfaces—like scree, muddy trails, and small streams. Wherever your adventure takes you, and however long it lasts, you’ll appreciate having a hiking stick along for the ride.
3. Research Easy Hikes or Walks
A good hike doesn’t have to mean scaling steep mountainsides or heading deep into the wilderness. Look up easy hikes or walks you can enjoy with your grandchildren at neighborhood, county, or state parks; nature preserves; wildlife refuges, and riversides.
Many parks offer easy trails geared toward hikers of all abilities, generally with little elevation gain and low mileage. And quite often, these trails can offer impressive wildlife viewing, breathtaking scenery, quiet respites, interpretive panels, and other educational components.
4. Find Out What Your Grandchildren Like to Do—and Plan an Outing Around That Interest
Surely, your grandchildren must have at least some interests beyond TikTok and Animal Crossing—so why not learn more and see how you can bond over those outdoor activities?
Maybe they’re avid skateboarders, and your shredding days are far behind you. That doesn’t mean you can’t at least encourage their hobbies and watch them try new tricks at the skatepark. They’ll appreciate the chance to show off for their grandparents, and you’ll enjoy the opportunity to watch them pursue their passions.
5. Share Your Own Interests With Your Grandchildren
Now that you’ve indulged your grandchildren’s interests, why not share your own favorite pastimes, hobbies, sports, and specialties? Doing so could be a great opportunity to teach them new skills, have them something new, and connect with some of your passions. It also helps them get to know you better and experience something that’s meaningful to you.
6. Expand Your Idea of “Adventure”
We tend to think of “the outdoors” as a far-off place—dark woods, roving bears, raging rivers, that kind of thing. But most of us can enjoy memorable outdoor experiences in our own backyards or at neighborhood parks—all of which demand less preparation and make a small-scale adventure more accessible for kids and kids at heart.
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination: Why not pitch a tent and camp in your own backyard, for instance? You could also try birdwatching, stargazing on a clear night, or identifying local plants—all of which can be aided by apps on your smartphone or tablet.
And if your grandchildren are still coming around on the outdoors, many cities show movies on inflatable screens at neighborhood parks throughout the summer; even spreading a blanket on a patch of grass and watching a hit film under the stars qualifies as an outdoor adventure.
Written by Matt Wastradowski for Matcha in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of AL and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.