“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain

Amy and I are loving the time out with our kids in nature. Taking pictures with them has been such a great way to spend time together and for us to be in awe of nature. We want to encourage you to the the same!

This past weekend I took my son and his friend up to Nebraska to The Indian Cave State Park.  I was looking for some locations for our Adventure Guide Explorer Series workshops where we travel to a cool place to take pictures…cool yeah!  I will say that while the Indian Caves were not as cool as I hoped (or the boys hoped) we still had a good time. Plus it was 70 degrees in February which means you are legally bound to be outside because it is was so beautiful.  To be fair,  this was a scouting trip to see what was cool in the park. We knew that it was going to be brown and not yet sporting its spring look. We weren’t expecting amazing views quite yet and didn’t know where the cool spots were. I am sure it would be much better and more beautiful in the spring, summer, fall…just not winter! The park had lots of great trails and camping, but the caves were not exactly what we hoped for. Enough of that review… on to what boys need!

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WHAT ARE THE FIVE THINGS EXPLORER BOYS NEED FOR A PHOTO HIKE

1. A camera bag. Jackson has a messenger bag for his camera that we made and he really put it to the test this weekend. It got dirty ..for sure. But it was comfortable to carry and held his snacks ( the most important thing for him!)  He had his gear safe and sound. I liked that he could put it away somewhere that it wouldn’t get dirty when he wanted to go off and explore (plus I wasn’t left carrying his camera for him!) Make sure his bag will protect his camera. A regular back pack might not have the proper protection and kids throw lots of stuff into a backpack that might damage their camera.

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2. Snacks. We took simple snack packed trail mix. Easy to carry and it fit right into his bag. We also brought  beef jerky but that didn’t make it to the trail…they ate it in the car. But still a great easy to carry non-messy snack. Obviously you want to have snacks that don’t need utensils or could spill in a camera bag. These were both great options. Pack some water as well. Jackson’s bag has a d-ring to attach a water bottle to on the side of the bag. Typically water and cameras don’t mix well… so however they choose to carry their water just made sure it has a secure lid.

3. Walking sticks. My son has some walking stockings (or called Trekking sticks) because he likes to hike with his dad often. His are light weight and collapsable. But even a long stick or wooden hiking stick would be great. The benefit of a found stick is that is it can be left when you are done! Either way the boys liked having them when  they were heading up the steep path we were on and heading down as well. How cool… a walking stick monopod! Not only get some additional walking stability but some camera stability too!

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4. Something to look for! This seems like a no brainer, but having a list of things to find and photograph makes the trip more fun. I didn’t do this for this trip and wish I had written down just a few things for them to find. Even a generic list would have resulted in more pictures. Things like find a green texture, photograph a leaf, use the rule of thirds, photograph a landscape with at f/22. (These are things we talk about in our beginning adventure guide photo workshop)… but you can tailor it to your child. My son needs that kind of plan. Maybe yours does too!

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5. Lastly, they need YOU. Go on the adventure with them. If you are taking them somewhere cool to look at bring your camera along as well and find the shots on your scavenger hunt list too. Enjoy the wonder of exploration as well. Honestly,  I don’t know if I would have wanted to walk up the steep  hill  that we lovingly now just call “Trail Head 11″…but my son wanted to go so I went. It was great exercise and I had a great time. They need you to go and explore with them. Learn about it together. We had a lots of laughs on Saturday and even though it wasn’t what we hoped we had a great time together.  Taking a friend was also great for my son. I think it makes him a little more adventurous.

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10 FUN THINGS TO LOOK FOR OUT IN NATURE

1. Cool textures (bark, moss)

2. Bugs

3. Animal Tracks

4. Leading lines (paths, river beds)

5. Color

6. Something gross (haha..boys love gross things)

7. Mushrooms

8. Reflections in water

9. Birds and nests (remember..don’t touch)

10. Interesting plants or leaves

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