Outdoor Guide For Kids by Gerry Martin – Bangalore Camping

India’s first adventurer on National Geographic channel (remember Croc Chronicles or Snake Wranglers?), wildlife expert and herpetologist Gerald ‘Gerry’ Martin has been wild at heart since the time he was a kid. He grew up in a farmhouse, surrounded by animals and nature and at 17 started assisting the legendary Romulus Whitaker at the Madras Crocodile Bank. In fact, he was the bank’s youngest curator. From watching 31 baby cobras hatch in his room during a project to looking for crocodiles on camera, Martin has done it all.

Today he shares his love for adventure with children and educates them about nature and animals through camps and workshops. He tells MetroMela how parents can get city kids away from the TV and closer to nature and even shares some of his favorite outdoor destinations. Read on…Parents can organize all kinds of outdoor trips, instead of just visits to a mall or movie theatre. Even a walk in Cubbon Park, a trip to Bannerghatta National Park, sitting by any of the new lakes, doing stuff in the garden, making bird boxes, bird feeders, etc., could make a huge difference to children. The outdoors need not be compartmentalized into something you see when you’re out on a trip.

When you do go on a trip, Bangalore is surrounded by beautiful and magnificent wilderness, forests and hills. Explore! Kids are intrinsically allured by pets. All we need to do is to nurture that. If you have a pet at home, teach the kids to be responsible for it by example. If the pet brings joy to the parents, they need to share that with their children.

If you are taking the kids out on a trek, remember that kids need small stretches in their activities. There’s a fine line between adventure and misadventure. Ensuring that the end emotion is a positive one is imperative to the process of developing a strong interest and passion in children about the outdoors. Some areas around Bangalore could be great adventure trips for families with kids. I personally have a few favorites like Jungle Retreat in Masinagudi, Hunkal Woods in Chikmagalur and Geedee Farms right here in Bannerghatta!

Gerry Martin – BangaloreKids are often scared of insects, reptiles and even lizards. In my experience, most fear is conditioned and comes from others around them – parents, friends and others. All we need is to keep our fears to ourselves and not transfer them on to our kids. For those who are already afraid, it helps to do things slowly – short and gentle exposures to the animals that they fear. Building knowledge about the animals also helps a lot.

Gardening is a great idea to help kids connect with nature. It builds a strong connect, gives children a feeling of accomplishment, develops a commitment to something alive and helps them stay away from the malls, bowling alleys and other decadent hang outs.

Gerry Martin works with kids from the age of 9 to 16. His camps involve a structured introduction to nature and the wilderness, where city kids learn about survival, the dos and don’ts in the outdoors and get “hands-on experiences in nature and leave with a certain connect with the environment.” Activities involve tree climbing, trekking, camping, direction finding, birdwatching, among a host of others. For more information, call 09845437337.