Building Outdoor Skills Through Repetition
March 21, 2016 | Emily Moeschler
Like many families with young kids, we don’t have a lot of free time. So naturally, making an effort to get the kids outdoors is something we have to prioritize and schedule! Not only do we have fun getting outside together, but we’ve discovered that practice and repetition are necessary for our kids to master their outdoor skills. As a parent, few things rival the pride and joy in their little voices when they yell “Mom! I did it!” Watching them try, succeed, and grow is priceless.
Learning New Skills Takes Practice
With practice, kids build competence. Competence, in turn, breeds confidence which can translate to success in life. Just ask Malcom Gladwell, author of the book Outliers. Gladwell identifies 10,000 hours as the amount of time that it takes for a person to truly develop an expertise in an area. According to Gladwell there are no naturals, and there are no short cuts. There is only hard work, dedication, commitment and practice to achieve true mastery of a skill. While that many hours may sound daunting to us parents, the bottom line is that the more we get our kids to practice, the more we can expect to see their confidence soar.
Practice Leads to Improvement
Avid4 Adventure’s Heather Mrozek knows this better than anyone. Growing up, Heather was a self proclaimed indoor kid and “band geek”. But when she spent a summer at a national park in college, that all changed. Over the years she’s experienced a personal transformation through the time she’s spent dedicated to improving her skills in the outdoors and building her confidence and leadership. Today, while still a musician, Heather is also an accomplished climber and spends as much time outdoors as possible. For Heather, skills mastery is a lifelong process and the benefits are limitless.
“When I first started rock climbing, it was way outside of my comfort zone, and I was definitely not good at it. I had been a college music major and was not much of an athlete. A kind friend took me climbing for the first time at Batman Pinnacle in Northern Colorado. I climbed so slowly that we had to hike out several miles in the dark! Nonetheless, I was hooked and continued going to indoor gyms and outdoor crags with a group of supportive friends. I fell in love with the sport and even went bouldering with my now-husband on our first date.
But it wasn’t just about learning the skills of climbing. The transformation I experienced was about empowerment, learning to challenge myself and growing more confident. I was hooked on the outdoors and the feeling of “feeling good about myself”. When I began to teach kids to climb at Avid, I realized that the empowerment I was giving them was even more important than the sport itself.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have friends who took me outdoors and if I hadn’t practiced over and over again. The repetition kids experience from multiple weeks of Avid4 Adventure camps combined with our supportive staff get kids to that level of empowerment I believe is so important. That is now the focus of my career and is definitely worth it!”
Today as a Regional Manager at Avid4 Adventure, Heather is paying it forward. She’s built a successful career out of helping kids put in the practice necessary to strengthen their skills in outdoor sports and in life.
Helping Kids Build Their Outdoor Skills
Even the smallest activities can provide kids with the valuable outdoor exposure necessary to gain proficiency and grow. Here are a few ways parents can help kids practice their skills:
- Get outside in your own backyard or local park! Just committing to spending time (30-40 mins) outside together, you’ll find you don’t need much besides a good attitude and imagination when you’re outdoors and in nature.
- Set small goals that you could practice every week – whether it’s biking up a hill on a bike path or go just a little bit further on a hike – every time you stretch your kid’s boundaries, you help them build confidence and grow.
- Allow your kids to plan and lead weekend hikes to develop their leadership skills.
- Take afternoon bike rides on local trails or around the neighborhood to build balance and stamina.
- Have your kids organize backyard camping trips. It takes some of that planning off of you and teaches your kids how to plan ahead and prepare.
- Participate in a local outdoor family class – maybe try fly fishing together or kayaking classes in a local pool? If your kids seeing you try something new, they’ll be more likely to embrace learning new skills too!
- Check out your local rock gym. Rock gyms are a great way to help your kids build their strength, motor skills, and feel a sense of accomplishment!
- Sign up for more than one week of Avid4 Adventure multi-sport or single sport camps. Repetition helps kids build confidence through exposure to new things and deepens skills.
There are countless ways to help kids develop outdoor skills and with Avid4 Adventure, you don’t have to go it alone. The important part is putting in the time and practice. After all, practice makes empowerment (not just perfection)!