Taking some time to get outdoors with your family has benefits that are obvious, but also some you are unlikely to predict. According to a study published in the Therapeutic Recreation Journal, doing challenging outdoor activities with your children will hone your parent-child communication skills. Instead of letting your kids zone out on Minecraft, take them outdoors to improve your familial relationships.


Ride ATVs

ATVs can get you out on challenging terrain and they come in sizes for virtually every age group, making them a perfect candidate for adventurous family activity. With the right safety gear and training, ATVs are safe, fun and physically demanding. Once you get into it, you can travel to more challenging trails like the Glamis sand dunes in California or the Hatfield and McCoy trails in West Virginia.

Go Canyoneering

Canyoneering is simply the act of exploring canyons. In practice, it is much more exciting than it sounds. Natural canyons have terrain ranging from grassy, flat stretches to rapids lined with shifting rocks. In order to traverse family-friendly canyons, you may find yourself swimming, climbing and maybe even doing some light rappelling as your family develops more skills. Choose canyons monitored by park rangers, fit your family's difficulty level and provide some additional motivation, such as rock hunting.

Kayak or Raft

Kayaking and rafting do not have to be the heart-stopping white water sports they get the reputation for being. You can leisurely kayak and raft with your entire family on the right waterway. The great thing is you need very little equipment beyond the boats and life jackets to protect your family and follow local laws. Start with a body of water near you — it does not matter if it is a river, pond or even the ocean. Just make sure it is easy enough for everyone to conquer. REI suggests you ask local paddlers for advice on where to bring beginners, the best spots for bathroom breaks and the safest local spots.

Explore Caves

Caving is not just for heavily-equipped professionals. There are plenty of safe caves for families to explore. The easiest of them, such as the Polar Caves in New Hampshire, require only sturdy athletic shoes or boots, depending on the terrain. Wear boots that cover the ankles in caves with unsteady floors. As your family becomes more able to take on larger caves, you may find such treats as glowworms, bats, amazing rock formations and underground bodies of water.


Orienteering can teach skills that come in handy in a variety of scenarios. You will typically need hiking gear, maps and compasses. Find a great stretch of wilderness, preferably somewhere with a predictable climate that lacks treacherous terrain, and then map out a random hike that is only as long as your children can handle. Remember, everyone has to walk back, so if you go six miles out, you have mapped out a 12-mile journey. Use your compasses to stay on the charted course as you go. Parents involved in orienteering with their children should have a strong background in map/compass reading.