Athleta Ambassador Lacey Shelton starting camping before she could walk. Today, she celebrates those same adventurous values with her family. Below, she talks about enjoying life in nature with her husband and daughter, and the importance of connecting to the outdoors.
You and your daughter Dylan (along with your husband!) are quite the adventurers. Why is it important for you to introduce Dylan to these types of activities early?
I truly believe that the outdoors can teach us more than anything else can. Learning how to care for Mother Earth and how to survive with what is on your back shows children strength and independence, which are two things that I value as a parent. Exploring the world with Dylan and my husband is what I dreamed about as a little girl, and I’m so happy to see that coming true.
How did your upbringing shape your interest in physical activity and the outdoors?
I grew up with my parents bringing both me and my twin brother in the woods from 6 months old. Knowing my mom did it with infant twins pushes me to know that I can do it with Dylan. Every time I see Dylan experience the crunch of leaves in her hands or the way the river moves when she walks through it makes my heart sing. Her eyes light up, and I know that is what my mom saw in myself as well. We’re an outdoor-loving family, and luckily my husband and his family is the same way.
What are some of the other outdoor activities you’ve introduced Dylan to?
Recently, we have been doing some long family bike rides. Dylan rides on the back of my husbands bike and I have the two dogs in the trailer behind mine, and we cruise around town or to a nice park for a picnic. We also try to head out to the beach once a week, and build sand castles and play in the waves. Even on a cold day, the beach can be so much fun for a toddler and two dogs! One day, she’ll be out there on a surfboard with us too!
You live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a particularly beautiful part of the country. Are there certain local areas you especially like to visit?
I’ve lived everywhere from Hawaii to Europe to San Clemente, but Northern California has my heart. We recently moved to Petaluma, and love exploring the local area. We are looking forward to hiking Point Reyes and camping up in Gualala this year. It’s just so cool to us that these places are within a day’s drive for us, yet GORGEOUS. We hope to see as much as Northern California as we can. We give Dylan a state park pass each year, so we can go explore a new state park together as a family.
In your blog post about going camping with Dylan for the first time (Camping With A Baby) you provided a lot of tips. What advice do you have for moms wanting to get their babies and kids to be more active outdoors?
Be prepared and confident! Most parents are intimidated by bringing a baby or a toddler out into nature, and don’t do the first step of trying! I realized early on how important being prepared was with a baby, so I make sure to have a list of things I need to check off and a flexible schedule. I also suggest building your tent in your living room, and do a faux camping night in your house! Dylan loved it indoors, so it made her more familiar when we had the tent set up in our campsite. That made me confident to bring Dylan camping for the first time when she was 6 months old, and 2 or 3 more camping trips since then. I make sure to make Dylan as comfortable as possible while making sure she has various snacks and layers of clothes. So mommas, don’t be scared just be prepared!
You’re not just an “outdoor mama.” Being fit and active is a huge part of your life. What other activities do you have going on?
I think that my love to move and explore naturally provides an active lifestyle. I am one of those people that has to use every moment of sunlight to its full potential. I’ve always been an early riser, as I need to be outside and exploring something cool or new. I’ve hiked, camped and snowboarded my whole life, but I found my passion for yoga and surfing when I was 19 years old. My love for yoga quickly outshone everything else. There is just something that is so rigid and graceful about yoga. It’s the perfect balance between strength and rest.
Lacey says she’s taken Dylan on several camping trips since the first venture out and can’t wait to see her discover even more of nature’s magic.