Beyond the park: Taking toddlers outdoors

This blog has been dormant for a few years, because I did not have a clear goal. Since the last post, we also have added a not-so-tiny-anymore adventurer to our outdoors family. But with that also came the realization of the challenge that comes with introducing a toddler to the natural world beyond the nearby park. Most outdoor organizations I am (was?) a member of do not permit underage members to participate in outings, or if they do the minimum age is somewhere around elementary school age. I ave tried joining some local Sierra Club outings, but either the leader flat out refused to have us join a casual car-camping outing despite our experience (!), or never responded to my question if I could take my toddler along. Yet I knew from blogs like Beth Rodden’s blog and from my friends in the Owen’s River Valley on the East Side of the Sierra Nevada that safe outdoors travel is possible with our tiny adventurers.


Privately and informally, I have reached out to my outdoorsy friends with and without small children in their lifes to form a village to introduce our kids to the outdoors on a pace and level which is appropriate for their age. I am hoping that together we can reach a few goals:

  • Overcome the inertia which comes with the extra logistics of preparing for a trip with a toddler.
  • We like going on trips with our friends, and similarly our kids enjoy having their little friends around.
  • Learn from each other what gear works best, and where to find it. Also, how to improvise (see Beth Rodden’s naptime sleeping bag)
  • Encourage outdoor clubs and organizations we are involved with to expand their scope to include the next generation and their parents at an early age.
  • Share some trip destinations and tell you about companies who accomodate adventurous toddlers.

Next week, I will share how our first car camping trip for J’s first birthday went.Other upcoming post ideas: introducing my toddler to the canoe, a summary of resources for pediatric wilderness medicine, a lovely 10 mile day hike to my own favorite childhood hiking destination while I grew up in Germany. Please leave me comments what else you want to hear about! In the future, I am also looking to sharing this space with guest bloggers.


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