I am a big proponent of kids connecting with nature. I think that kids who love nature grow into adults who love nature and want to protect it. I also think playing in, and connecting with, nature is a lot of fun...
You’ll often find my kids painting rocks with Yellowstone River water, playing hide-and-go-seek in tall grass or tromping along dirt covered paths. We connect with nature by using our senses and our intellect. We are feeling the cold snow melt in the river, smelling the new sap in the willows and watching branches float by, all the while learning about the origin of our favorite river and the history of its use.
One of the ways we connect with nature (you probably saw this one coming) is by going barefoot. Feeling the soft dirt or pokey rocks gives us a better understanding of the place we are in.
Earlier this month we went on a 12-day camping road trip. We hiked and explored several National Monuments and Parks. While we weren’t allowed to be barefoot on a tour of Jewel Cave, we did shed our shoes on some of the aboveground hiking trails.
But here’s the thing, my kids just weren’t that into it. I’d encourage them to hike barefoot, but mostly they preferred to wear shoes. They ran around the campsites barefoot, until one or the other stepped on a thistle or a sharp rock, but when we were “officially hiking” it was all about the shoes.
Here’s the other thing, I don’t particularly want to be barefoot on trails either. It hurts. I thought if my kids got used to it while they were young, it would be easier, but they don’t want to get used to it.
I hike in my Five Fingers, but I have yet to find good, affordable minimalist shoes for my little kids. I know they are out there…so, that’s my next quest. I’d love your suggestions.