Kids in the Woods will help get the whole family out into nature

Shannon and her son Sam, heading out for their first overnight in a tent
I first met Shannon, the creator of Kids in the Woods, as part of a new moms group I was in last year. For those of you looking for inspiration for how to get outside and get active with the whole family, Kids in the Woods is full of inspiration for camping and hiking.

Shannon's got some pretty amazing life experiences to pull on — she grew up in Alaska and flew Apaches in the first crop of women attack helicopter pilots. She's scuba dived on three continents, sky dived on two, and climbed the highest mountains on the North American and African continents. This is all to say, homegirl knows her outdoor time, and Kids in the Woods is a great way to soak up some of those smarts. So nestle up close and eavesdrop on a conversation I had with Shannon about her inspiration, how non-outdoorsy families can get started, and her favorite outdoor baby gear.

What inspired you to start Kids in the Woods?
Lots of moms I talked to wanted to get outside with their kids, either because they had been outdoorsy before, or because they knew it was good for their babies, but were intimidated by the logistics and the unknowns. I wanted to find a place to share resources and stories to encourage people to get out and give it a try, whether that meant a longer-than-normal walk in a park, or an overnight backpacking trip, or an ocean canoe.

What were your own biggest fears about getting back into the outdoors after having a baby?
I had a C-section, so was worried about the strain on those muscles for a long time. Like most new moms, I was overwhelmed with taking care of this tiny helpless person who relied solely on me. I was out of shape and I knew it. I was tired. I knew from past experience how I responded — and what my needs were — in the outdoors, but I didn't know my baby's. So I did a little bit of research, and spent more time than normal in getting ready for a few easy backpacking and snowshoeing trips. We did our first overnight with Sam on a rainy weekend when he was five months, and he didn't mind a bit!

What's your best advice for folks who might not have been outdoorsy before having a baby, but want to get their kids out into nature?
Start small, but start! Get out to the park, and on the weekend venture out a little further and a little longer. Take it slow, and spend time being prepared with the right clothing (look up the 10 essentials, and carry them with you), and lots of snacks if your baby is a little older. A good rule of thumb for kids is to dress them one layer warmer than you dress yourself in cold weather. Look for other moms making similar efforts — there is always strength in numbers.

In the Seattle area there are a couple of meet-up groups that get out with kids, and if you hang out around places like REI you're bound to run into like-minded people.

For overnights, start with car camping. You can stick to car camping for years, if you want. Some campgrounds are more remote than others, so if you want to car camp but have a quieter experience, look around (and let us know if you're looking so we can work on recommendations!).

Oh, and share your questions, and your pictures and stories, with Kids in the Woods! We have a Facebook page too.

What are your favorite outdoorsy products?
Until about four months old, we carried Sam in the ubiquitous Ergo Sport, which worked great. Starting when he was about five months old (but he was a big baby!)

I hike with a Sherpani Ultralight, and absolutely love it. It balances the baby on your back well, and fits like a good backpack should, while allowing a little bit of room for storage.

The Patagonia long underwear for babies and toddlers is awesome, as is their snowsuit.

For overnights we bring the heavy weight Merino Kids sleep sack we use at home and can't say enough good things about it.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Don't stop what you're doing — bring the baby along! Spending time outdoors in wild spaces is so important for our psyches, and our education about our earth. It's good for you, and your baby, and your family will have memories for the rest of your lives.

Let us know what you'd like to see on Kids in the Woods to help you get outside!

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  1. What got us into the outdoors more than anything was a recent vacation to the Pacific Northwest. You guys are just plain lucky with the weather there that allows for mucho outdoor time. We hiked, walked, kayaked, etc. all over the place with our four kids (including the 12 month old) and this is something we do not hardly ever do at home in Missouri…it's HOT and HUMID here. Or COLD. Or tornadoey. Or full of ice storms. It's way easier to go outside with a temperate climate. Much harder to do when the threat of an adult passing out from the temperature is a very real thing. And ridiculously difficult to take your baby out in it.

    Yes, I'm jealous :)

    • sounds like getting out in the shoulder seasons might be best for you in a more extreme summer location (it does rain a fair amount in the PNW :-))…good luck, and don't give up!

  2. I love articles about how life doesn't have to completely change when you have a kid. Sometimes it seems as if everyone is like, "Do all of the fun stuff before you have a child, because once you conceive, all of the fun is over!"

    Loved the interview! Now I am off to check out Kids in the Woods!

    3 agree
  3. Great article! Just a heads up, but the 10 essentials link isn't correct. It appears to be set up to copy the address twice in the bar. Easy fix, but I couldn't do it with Editz.

    • Hey Stacy — the link works fine for me! Hmmmm.

  4. Ok, let's just say she kick's butt. Her bio is crazy brave. I'm not an outdoors type, but she impresses me. I'd take my baby out with her anytime:). Great piece.

    • thank you…but anyone can do it, really! We don't feel very hard core at all with the baby in tow, but love getting out with him even if it means changing things up a bit…give it a try!

  5. Great interview! I am so inspired to get out there with the kid. We took him car-camping last summer, when he was 9-10 months, but haven't been since.

    Thank you!

    1 agrees

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