Words From an Outdoor Mother

We asked Amy McCaffree to share a few of her most memorable moments and tips from parenting in the outdoors.

What was one of the scariest moments with your kids in the outdoors and how did you pivot/cope? 

At Fish Lake Trail near Cheney, Wash., I went up a dirt spur trail with my kids who were on their Strider bikes while I was walking with our dog. On the way back down, my daughter, age 3 at the time, got going too fast and crashed into bushes, flying head over handlebars like a ragdoll. When she didn’t respond, I thought she was unconscious (despite wearing a helmet). After she caught her breath to wail, I assessed that she was, luckily, unharmed. In retrospect, before picking her up, I should have carefully checked for spinal cord injury or head trauma. I soothed her, told her she was very brave and strong, and then we ate a snack and promptly returned to our car.

What was one moment where you thought to yourself, all the effort (of getting kids outside) is worth it?

When each of my kids caught their first trout on their fly rods, doing everything by themselves—casting, setting the hook, and reeling in. Especially because where we like to fly fish requires hiking down steep riverbanks and wading through a swift, yet shallow, current to my husband’s favorite fishing spots.

What is one piece of advice you would give parents who are just beginning to take their kids on outdoor adventures? 

“Quit while you’re ahead”—any amount of time your kids are enjoying outdoor recreation, no matter how brief, is worthwhile when it’s building a “bank” of positive experiences and memories. So be sure to stop, go inside or head home before a kid gets too tired, hungry, wet or cold—which often means the youngest child sets the pace of an outing.

Cover photo courtesy of Amy McCaffree

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