Getting Your Teen Outdoors This Summer

The following is a blog post from Michelle Holland, WILD Outside Youth Leadership Specialist for the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

Online education and lockdowns have been a regular part of many teenagers lives over the past year. However, with flowers blooming and a need to connect growing, this is the perfect time to encourage youth to get outdoors. People of all ages benefit from spending time in nature. It can reduce stress, enhance confidence and help restore mental health. 

Tips for Engaging Teenagers in the Outdoors

If your teen is not a natural when it comes to the outdoors (see what I did there?), here are some tips to encourage them to get outside this summer, and all year-round:

  • Give them options and let them choose. Letting their voice be heard and valuing their opinions can really help with buy in. Helping to plan the activity can also encourage leadership.
  • Let them bring a friend (remember to follow all provincial and local health guidelines).
  • Do something different or adventurous. Explore a new area or try a new activity. 
  • Be prepared for your activity and the outdoors. Being thirsty, sore or covered in mosquitoes is no fun; not addressing basic needs is a huge distraction and can create a negative memory. 
  • Play to other skills and interests they already have. Interested in the arts? Board games? Photography? Try connecting their existing interests to the outdoors.
  • Check out programs that specifically target youth. It's a great way to meet people and try new activities. In Edmonton, there are many options that may reopen this summer. Check out community leagues, City of Edmonton facilities, the YMCA and other youth programs to find the best fit.

Getting Outside with Canadian Wildlife Federation

Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) is passionate connecting Canadians to nature. They have two programs specifically designed for teens and young adults in Edmonton and across Canada:

  • WILD Outside: For youth 15-18, this free and inclusive program combines outdoor recreation activities and service projects to help conservation ethic in young Canadians. Learn more.  

  • Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC): For older youth and young adults aged 18-30, the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC) is a three-stage immersive program for young people interested in conservation. Learn more

  • Apps: For youth looking to engage in the outdoors on their own, CWF's free iNaturalist app turns your smartphone into a field guide and nature scavenger hunt. This is a citizen science app that helps you ID many living aspects out in nature, while also contributing data about where biodiversity is located across Canada. For kids, the Wild Gang app connects you to learning and games as part of Hinterland’s Who’s Who, those famous black and white vignettes and TV ads from the 1960s. You can also try out the massive treasure hunt that is geocaching. Both apps are available for Apple and Android devices.
  • Online resources: CWF has interactive games, encyclopedias and tons of videos on YouTube for young people interested in wildlife and conservation. Starting a discussion around what interests them about the natural world can open the door for continued reading over the summer. 

How can the Library help?

Take your knowledge to the next level with EPL! Many of our online resources have content related to nature. No library card? No problem! Sign up for FREE online or visit one of our EPL locations.

  • National Geographic: Enjoy the beautiful and popular magazine online. Includes every page and every photograph, all fully searchable. Includes every issue from 1888 onward. 
  • Birds of the World: Perfect for ornithologists and bird-lover, Birds of the World is a powerful research database and digital encyclopedia containing 10,721 species accounts, 21,000 colour illustrations and tens of thousands of photos, videos and sound recordings.
  • Check out the Canadian Wildlife Federation magazines, Canadian Wildlife and WILD Magazine.

For additional non-fiction material, including books and movies, check out these recommended lists:

Nature-inspired titles for teens