REI Inspires Kids, Families to Get Outside this Summer - SNEWS

REI Inspires Kids, Families to Get Outside this Summer

With summer just around the corner, parents everywhere will soon be looking for ideas to get their kids outside and active.

With summer just around the corner, parents everywhere will soon be looking for ideas to get their kids outside and active. Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) has just the solution – Passport to Adventure, a free program launching this week designed to introduce a new generation to the fun of outdoor recreation.

Now through Labor Day, REI's Passport to Adventure program invites kids aged five to 12, and their parents to participate in kid-sized, family-friendly hikes and bike rides recommended by local REI employees who want to share their passion for the outdoors. Information for parents describing each of the hikes and bike rides – none of which are too difficult for families new to these activities – along with driving directions and helpful tips are available at REI stores nationally beginning this week.

While in the store, kids can pick up their own special passport-style adventure journal to jot down field notes, attach photos, create drawings, play games such as “Once Upon a Bike” and “Hiking Haiku!” and capture their thoughts about each hike and bike ride.

In addition to the keepsake journal, children who successfully complete any combination of three hikes and bike rides can have their “passport” stamped and will receive a free Passport to Adventure water bottle, as well as a certificate commemorating their accomplishment. At the program's conclusion, several REI stores across the country will be planning parties for children to celebrate their completion of their summer adventures with other participants.

For many parents, the program – now in its second year – provides a welcome and healthy diversion for kids this spring and summer. While the aim is to get kids outside, a large-scale Cornell University study indicates that such activities before age 11 provide a particularly potent pathway toward shaping both environmental attitudes and behaviors in adulthood, according to Nancy Wells, one of two Cornell faculty researchers who authored the study.

“Being a kid should include running around outside, riding a bike, climbing trees and exploring the woods, unfortunately today's youth are spending less time outdoors than any previous generation,” said Sally Jewell, REI president and CEO. “It's our hope that this program provides a helpful tool for parents to introduce their children to a fun experience in the outdoors – and in the process instill an appreciation of nature.”

REI member Richard Louv, author of the book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, said that some kids may be more interested in reaching the next level of a video game, than completing a hike. “But parental persistence, taking the long view, will pay off soon, in better mental and physical health for your children, and later, when your kids come to you as young adults and say, ‘Remember that time we went hiking? That was the best summer ever.'”

“We hear from parents that they want to introduce their children to outdoor recreation and help them experience nature, but that they don't know about places to go or how to get started. Hopefully our hike and bike route suggestions and tips for parents offered through this program will remove that barrier,” added Jewell. “Because each hike and bike ride is minimal in distance, and all are considered either easy or moderate, the program is well-suited for families of all abilities.”

For parents of children participating in the program, Steve Wood, a father of four who leads introductory classes for the REI Outdoor School offers the following tips:
• Distance – Start small and see how it goes before attempting a longer hike or bike ride. For hiking, the maximum is a half-mile per year of your child's age, but may be much less; whereas cycling distance varies, depending on how much bike riding your child has done previously.
• Degree of Difficulty – Be sure to set the difficulty based on your youngest child, or you risk turning your kids off to the activity, and they'll never trust you as an outdoor guide again. Keep in mind that the trip is for your kids! If you are an avid hiker or cyclist, satisfy your personal goals separately.
• Trail/Route Selection – Choose trails and bike routes that offer a wide range of visual and interactive stimulation, such as waterfalls and bridges, meadows and picnic areas, huge trees and rocks. Variety is the key, with new surprises around every bend such as a loop trail rather than a repetitive out-and-back trail. Also be prepared with alternate plans if conditions warrant, such as a shorter alternate route in case things don't work out as well as expected.
• Sell the Outing – How you sell the outing to children can be one of the most important aspects of your planning. Instill a sense of anticipation that leaves your kids anxious to get moving. Start by printing out a map and tracing the route together, identify special features of the hike or bike route beforehand, and include your kids in shopping for gear or supplies.
• Age-Specific Goal Setting – Older kids may enjoy learning a new skill, such as navigating with a compass or fixing a flat tire; while younger children may enjoy finding the most types of flowers or bugs along the way.
• Clothing – Hiking and bike riding may require some small changes to your child's usual wardrobe. Dress them in layers, so they can warm up or cool down easily; avoid open-toed shoes, and cotton socks which may lead to uncomfortable feet and blisters; and dress them in bright colors so they are easily seen. Also, when riding a bike, always be sure to wear a helmet.
• Food & Water – Carry lots of dried fruits, energy bars (they don't need to know it's not candy), and let them create their own trail mix. Also be sure to bring along lots of water and to teach your kids about the importance of drinking water, as well as a new vocabulary word, “hydration.” Let them carry their own, and try freezing water in a sports bottle or let them use a hydration pack – it makes drinking water fun!
• Safety Kit – Teach kids to be safe and give each child their own personal safety kit. Include a whistle (for kids over 4; three blows means “I'm lost”) to wear around their neck; in a plastic bag include an extra snack and water, sunscreen, extra layer of clothes and a bright-colored rain poncho. Finally, for older kids (depending on age and maturity), include a watch, some rope (for use in making a shelter from the poncho), matches (if they've been taught how to start a campfire) and a pocket knife.
• Extras – Bring a camera for kids to use and paste pictures in their adventure journal, or to start a scrapbook to remember your adventures. When hiking it's a good idea to bring a compass, nature guide and a flashlight; and when cycling be sure to bring along a tire pump and patch kit, as well as a bike lock.
• Nature Lesson – Remember that a walk in the woods or a scenic bike ride is a teachable moment. Use the opportunity to talk about why the park/trail is there; point out snakes and bugs, fungi and interesting rocks and plant species; and review the seven principles of Leave No Trace listed on the back cover of the adventure journal.

About REI
REI is an outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its more than 3 million active members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI operates retail stores nationwide, two online stores – and – and an adventure travel company, REI Adventures. REI offers products from all of the top brands for camping, climbing, cycling, hiking, outdoor fitness, paddling, snow sports and travel, including its own line of award-winning gear and apparel. While anyone may join or shop at REI, members pay a one-time $15 fee and receive a share in the company's profits through an annual member refund based on their purchases. As an active supporter of the communities in which it does business, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through education, volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.

# # #

EDITOR'S NOTE: Interviews with local family hiking and cycling experts and program participants, as well as hiking and Passport to Adventure logo images and b-roll are available upon request.


REI Helps Kids, Families to Get Outside this Summer

Now through August, REI's Passport to Adventure program invites kids aged five to 12, and their parents to go on five kid-sized, family-friendly hikes recommended by local REI employees who want to share their passion for hiking with others. Information for parents describing more

REI Invites Children to Get Outside This Summer

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) invites children, adults and families to get active in the outdoors this summer with Kids' Passport to Adventure. Designed for children ages five to 12, the national program encourages kids to participate in at least one outdoor recreational more

The North Face and REI Team up to get More Kids Outside

The North Face today announced an eleven-city Role Models Speaker Series tour in partnership with REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) designed to give parents the advice and inspiration they need to get outside and active with their kids. Top athlete parents from The North Face, more

Ready, Set, Go Outside with REI’s Passport to Adventure!

With summer fast approaching, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national outdoor retailer, invites children and their families to explore the outdoors together with Passport to Adventure. Launching today, the free program is designed for children aged five to 12 and more

Guidebook to getting kids active outdoors debuts in April

A new guidebook to getting kids active in the great outdoors addresses one of America's top concerns. "Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids - A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors" by award-winning author Eugene Buchanan extends parents a helping hand, or set of more

Gear Aid Gets Kids Outside with Outdoor Gear Donation to Donate-a-Pack

Gear Aid™, the trusted repair and maintenance brand for outdoor gear, continues its initiative of getting kids outside with a substantial product donation to Adventure 16’s Donate-a-Pack Foundation. The Donate-A-Pack Foundation exists to benefit at-risk, low income, or disabled more

REI Programs, Classes and Products Help Families Find Summer

REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), a retail co-op providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, helps families reenergize their summer adventures with fun and friendly programs, events, products and resources. Launching today, REI’s Family Adventure Program (formerly the more

REI Launches Outdoor School; Makes Getting Outside Easy

This week the outdoor gear retail cooperative Recreational Equipment, Inc., (REI) is introducing its latest program designed to get people outdoors. The new REI Outdoor School offers classes and one-day guided outings that teach the basics of hiking, cycling, kayaking and more. more

REI Programs, Events and Products Help Families Enjoy Outdoor Summer A

Whether hiking, biking, camping or paddling, REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), a national outdoor gear and clothing retailer, encourages families to schedule outdoor fun this summer and helps them get started by offering programs, classes, events and products.REI's Family more