Meet Amanda and her family. I ‘met’ her on the Instagram community and have been inspired by her family adventures and asked her to write a post. They recently moved from Australia to Calgary and have begun adventuring in the Canadian Rockies. If you want to connect with Amanda check out her Instagram account here.
In December 2015, my husband and I moved to Calgary, Alberta from South Australia with our two children, aged 2 and 4. We set ourselves a goal of using our time in Canada to have as many outdoor adventures as possible. The weeks seem to be flying past, but here are the benefits we have found individually and as a family after setting this outdoor challenge for our family.
Spending time outdoors keeps us happier and healthier
When we first arrived in Calgary, winter was just beginning. Even though the coldest winter days were yet to come, the temperature difference and our lack of exposure to cold weather meant we were magnets for every bug. It didn’t take me long to realize that we needed to get outside each day to sleep, eat and feel better. We found that the more active each of us was, the better we felt, and so it didn’t take long for outdoor activity to become a priority.
Being outside is an achievable goal
When we planned our trip, we knew we couldn’t do it all. Canada is huge, and traveling the whole country wasn’t realistic or affordable. Setting an outdoor adventure goal was achievable and has helped shape our weekends. I try to get the kids out each day during the week. My kids are happy outdoors in the park or our garden, which means that outdoor activities do not always have to be a big adventure. We’ve found so many excellent playgrounds, and while I may tire of them, they haven’t yet. We save the longer, bigger adventures for when we’re all together as a family.
It is a fun, stress-free way to spend time with friends, and to meet new ones
Moving across the world from our family and friends has been both liberating and lonely. We’ve had to put ourselves out there in order to seek out and meet families who enjoy the same types of activities as us. Finding others who are enjoying their time outside has helped us to feel more connected, and to learn the best ways of getting kids involved in the outdoors. We joined the Calgary Outdoor Playgroup, the Facebook group for our local Wild Family Nature Club, and I’ve read local blogs such as Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies and Calgary Playground Review. A hike up Prairie Mountain, riding along closed highways and rafting down the Bow River are all highlights of our time here. Each of these experiences was made more special because it was shared with others that we met after having moved to Canada.
We are all growing and learning
My kids have just turned 3 and 5, and we are amazed at their growing experience in the outdoors. They’re fitter, stronger and more confident outside, and so are we. A recent lesson was learned after my son met a grizzly bear on his own, and we revised our strategy of letting the kids walk alone from restrooms to our tent (with an adult at each end). The learning hasn’t just been for the kids; my husband and I are learning their and our limits, the best way to explore the outdoors, and how to adjust to the difference in terrain and conditions in Canada than what we are used to in Australia.
There is always something to talk about
Hiking, cycling and just being outside have given our family lots to talk about together. Whether it is describing what we see, looking for animals or planning our next adventure or meal, we’ve yet to run out of topics. We’ve also seen our two children come alive in different ways when we spend time together outside, especially when we are not directly watching them. Trees and cubbies take on magical powers as our two children work together to create something of their own. In these moments my husband I are able to sit back, relax and soak up the beautiful views.
Rooms can feel the same any day, but being outside varies by the hour depending on the time of day, weather and season of the year. Kids enjoy exploring, and these differences create a new and unique experience for them each time we head out on an adventure. Almost every hike we’ve done has made me eager to return in another season to see how it has changed. I am especially looking forward to see how snow helps a place reinvent itself. Whether it is watching the sky or exploring tide pools, being outside helps us to understand the world better and to find our own rhythm.
The world seems bigger in the outdoors
There’s nothing like standing on top of an incredible mountain in the Canadian Rockies to feel how small humans are. It is an amazing yet humbling experience. Our family has found that spending time together outside helps us work better as a team, appreciate our achievements and find new places to explore. The endless possibilities in the outdoors have helped us to realize how much there is to learn about ourselves and all the new places there are to discover.
Canada is a diverse, beautiful country
There are so many outdoor opportunities in Canada whatever your age, fitness and ability. We’ve been so impressed at the number of friendly people we have seen out on the trails regardless of the weather. There are still so many places for us to explore, but we have loved that our outdoor adventure goal has already allowed us to see so much of Canada. Mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and hoodoos have etched themselves on our minds, and will forever remind us of this remarkable country.