We have 3 children and have tried hard to make them love the outdoors. We always encouraged playing in the garden and when they were very little we urged them to play in the rain and splash in the puddles and when our OCD boy whined “I wet, I wet” we helped him to calm down and to eventually love not only the splash of water but the splosh of mud.

Living the outdoors has possibly become increasingly more important. All our children, even the hill billies, are drawn to the wonder of screens, instant gratification and they find it hard to tear themselves away from the digital space. These screens and machines consume their brains and as parents we use them to still the craziness of having young children when it all gets too much. But, it is so important to try and remain vigilant and to encourage time-out.

Getting them out doors can be a mission and motivating ourselves, let alone a horde of screaming toddlers & pre-teens, can almost be impossible! They drag their feet, hang their heads and moan with each and every step. But, we have found that a little treat on a walk or a few very encouraging words can make a mammoth difference to the expedition. Also, being with friends and hiking as a gang is an excellent way to stay interested.

It was on a holiday to a small village in Austria that we discovered the ultimate motivator. Our children arrived in Neustift, a bit miffed about hiking and not doing the more fashionable skiing holiday, but the tourist office seemed to have the summer family holiday all worked out. The children each received a booklet and were able to collect stamps at every Alm we visited. It became an everyday mission – collecting as many stamps as possible. As parents we weren’t too sad because at every Alm there was sure to be a tasty Austrian beer!

We were so impressed with their achievement and self-motivation that we decided we had to do something similar at home. And so The Cavern’s hiking passport was born. Sadly no Alm with beer but maybe that is something to work towards!!

Children can gather stamps for all the walks and horse rides, a maximum of 2 per day. (Can you believe that we have had parents trying to crib the system and gather more stamps than earned? Now that is a completely different topic for another blog perhaps!) And, once they have collected stamps they can redeem them. 2 points gets an Ice Cream Cone or a Milkshake while 5 points gets a Pony Ride or a Bungee Bounce. And, for the determined outdoor hikers, horse riders or MTB enthusiast 10 points wins you a Cavern Cap or Beanie.

So, on your next visit, be sure to pick up your Cavern passport and check into the great outdoors!

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