15 Tips to Get Kids Excited for the Outdoors

March 26, 2024

Your kids might not be excited about spending a long weekend by an alpine lake or even peering into the depths of the Grand Canyon if they aren’t familiar with those experiences. Create a sense of wonder pre-trip by giving them an idea of what to expect and how they can help plan for the visit. Once you’re on location, there will be plenty of things to discover spontaneously to keep the excitement going. Here are some tips to get your kids excited for the trip to the great outdoors by involving them in the planning process.

Get Your Kids Excited About the Great Outdoors with These Tips

Three young girls look at a map on the forest floor as part of a scavenger hunt.

1. Show them where you’ll be going on a map. Zoom in on the location and point out all the fun stuff hiking trails will take you to.

2. Let your kids choose a nearby destination they want to explore during the trip and put it on the itinerary.

3. Once you’ve arrived, allow your kids to lead the group in exploring the place they picked out.

4. Be ready to help your kids interpret what they see and experience in the places you visit. Read trailside information signs together and stop by visitor centers to learn about local nature and culture.

Group of children drawing outdoors.

5. Before you go, talk about the fun activities your kids can do while they are in the great outdoors.

6. Have your kids help gather and pack the equipment you’ll need to participate in recreation activities like fishing, swimming, and lawn games.

7. Once you’ve arrived, ask your kids which activity they want to do most and prioritize it. Get them splashing in rivers, playing on beaches, or jumping into swimming pools.

8. If you’re visiting a national park, check out the park’s Junior Ranger webpage and download the Junior Ranger activity book to start learning about the park.

9. Give your kids a choice of the snacks and sweets you’ll prepare and enjoy in the outdoors. BBQ cheeseburgers, hotdogs with all the fixings, and gooey chocolaty s’mores will excite anyone!

10. When the sun goes down, it’s time to gather with family and friends around a cozy campfire. Start the evening entertainment with a camp song and a storytelling session. Ask your kids to bring a song sheet or jot down a story to share pre-trip to excite them for nightfall.

11. Before your trip, study a sky chart with your kids and learn about the folklore behind the stars and planets you’ll see. Your kids will be excited to identify and talk about the stars that appear in the night sky.

A family of three with a young child enjoys a unique accommodation at a KOA campground. This fully-furnished Conestoga wagon is a fun way to stay at a campground.

12. Booking one of KOA’s unique lodging options, like a red train caboose or giant teepee, is sure to get your kids excited for their trip to the great outdoors.

13. Plan to construct the ultimate pillow fort using camping cabin bunk beds. Make sure your kids bring plenty of blankets, sleeping bags, and cushions for building materials.

14. Ask your kids to bring a comfort item from home, like a stuffed toy, blanket, or pillow, to help them feel rooted while they explore the wonders of the outdoors.

15. Things you can’t plan will happen on your trip to the great outdoors, like meeting other kids at camp or discovering a hidden rushing waterfall. Chance encounters with nature’s beauty and forging new connections will create a sense of excitement on the spot.

Eva Barrows

Eva Barrows is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer. Eva writes about local places, people and events on her website She founded the online literary journal Imitation Fruit ( in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since.





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