An Exploratory Examination of Families Engaged in a Children’s Adventure Running Program


  • Heather Isnor Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Kimberley A. Dawson Wilfrid Laurier University



adventure running, children, families, outdoor recreation, physical activity


The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the experiences of families who participated in an adventure running program (ARP) in Canada. Adventure running is a unique sport that combines navigation and running in a forested setting. Six parents (four males, two females) and five children (two females, three males) were interviewed. Results indicated that parents and children chose to enroll in this program based primarily on past physical activity experiences and recommendations. Parents, children, and the coach perceived that the program benefited the families involved by changing their physical activity patterns and encouraging more participation in outdoor leisure activities. Findings are discussed with respect to larger societal issues, such as contemporary parenting ideologies and physical activity patterns of families.

Subscribe to JOREL


Active Healthy Kids Canada. (2014). Is Canada in the running? The 2014 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on physical activity for children and youth. Toronto: Active Healthy Kids Canada.

Allender, S., Cowburn, G., & Foster, G. (2006). Understanding participation in sport and physical activity among children and adults: A review of qualitative studies. Health Education Research, 21(6), 826-835.

Barnes, J. D., Cameron, C., Carson, V., Chaput, J., Faulkner, G. E., Janson, K., . . . Tremblay, M. S. (2016). Results from Canada’s 2016 ParticipACTION report card on physical activity for children and youth. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 13 (Suppl 2), S110 -S116.

Bird, W. (2012). Our natural health services. A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium. Alliston, ON.

Brockman, R., Jago, R., & Fox, K. R. (2011). Children's active play: Self-reported motivators, barriers and facilitators. BMC Public Health, 11(1), 461.

Carver, A., Timperio, A., Hesketh, K., & Crawford, D. (2010). Are children and adolescents less active if parents restrict their physical activity and active transport due to perceived risk? Social Science and Medicine, 70(11), 1799-1805.

Christiana, R. W., Davis, M., Wilson, M. G., McCarty, F. A., & Green, G. T. (2014). Factors related to rural young adolescents’ participation in outdoor, noncompetitive physical activity. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 85, 509-518.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications.

Dotterweich, A. R., Greene, A., & Blosser, D. (2012). Using innovative playgrounds and cross-curricular design to increase physical activity. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 83(5), 47-55.

Flett, R. M., Moore, R. W., Pfeiffer, K. A., Belonga, J., & Navarre, J. (2010). Connecting children and family with nature-based physical activity. American Journal of Health Education, 41(5), 292-300.

Floyd, M. F., Bocarro, J. N., Smith, W. R., Baran, P. K., Moore, R. C., Cosco, N. G., . . . Fang, F. K. (2011). Park-based physical activity among children and adolescents. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 41, 258-265.

Galaviz, K. I., Zytnick, D., Kegler, M. C., & Cunningham, S. A. (2016). Parental perceptions of neighbourhood safety and children's physical activity. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 13, 1110-1116.

Garcia, J. M., Healy, S., & Rice, D. (2016). The individual, social and environmental correlates of physical activity and screen time in Irish children: Growing up in Ireland study. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 13, 1285-1293.

Golden Horseshoe Orienteering. (2013). Adventure Running Kids. Retrieved from DONTGETLOST Adventure Running:

Gordon-Larsen, P., McMurray, R. G., & Popkin, B. M. (2000). Determinants of adolescent physical activity and inactivity patterns. Pediatrics, 6, 83-91.

Gouvernement du Quebec, Kino-Quebec Scientific Committee, Secretariet au Loisir et au Sport, Ministere de l'Education, & du Loisir et du Sport. (2011). Physical activity, sport and youth: Knowing and acting. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2008, January). Special report: What difference does learning make to financial security? Retrieved from Employment and Social Development Canada:

Gubacs-Collins, K., & Olsen, E. B. (2010). Implementing a tactical games approach with sport education: A chronicle. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 81(3), 36-42.

Janssen, I. (2015). Hyper-parenting is negatively associated with physical activity among 7-12 year olds. Preventative Medicine, 73, 55-59.

Jiménez-Pavón, D., Fernández-Alvira, J. M., te Velde, S. J., Brug, J., Bere, E., Kovacs, E., . . . Moreno, L. A. (2012). Associations of parental education and parental physical activity (PA) with children's PA: The ENERGY cross‐sectional study. Preventive Medicine, 55(4), 310–314.

Knight, S. (2009). Forest schools and outdoor learning in the early years. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Loebach, J. E., & Gilliland, J. A. (2016). Free range kids? Using GPS-derived activity spaces to examine children's neighbourhood and mobility. Environment and Behaviour, 48(3), 421-453.

Louv, R. (2008). The last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Maxwell, J. (1992). Understanding and validity in qualitative research. Harvard Educational Review, 62(3), 279-300.

McNeill, M. C., & Fry, J. M. (2011). Motivational climate in games concept lessons. Journal of Research in Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance, 6(1), 34-39.

Mo, F., Turner, M., Krewski, D., & Mo, F. D. (2005). Physical inactivity and socioeconomic status in Canadian adolescents. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 17(1), 49-56.

Mulholland, E. (2008). What sport can do: The True Sport report. Ottawa: True Sport.

Mygind, E. (2007). A comparison between children's physical activity levels at school and learning in an outdoor environment. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 7(2), 161-176.

ParticipACTION. (2013). Bring back play: Why are kids not playing anymore? Retrieved from ParticipACTION:

ParticipACTION. (2015). The biggest risk is keeping our kids indoors: The ParticipACTION report card on physical activity for children and youth. Toronto: ParticipACTION.

Patton, M. Q. (2003, September). Qualitative Evaluation Checklist. Retrieved from Western Michigan University:

Perotta, K. (2012). Public health and land use planning: Health outcomes, interventions & strategies. A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium. Alliston, ON: Creating Healthy and Sustainable Environments (CHASE).

Prince, S. A., Kristjansson, E. A., Russell, K., Billette, J.-M., Sawada, M. C., Ali, A., . . . Prud'homme, D. (2012). Relationships between neighborhoods, physical activity and obesity: A multilevel analysis of a large Canadian city. Obesity, 1-8.

Public Health Agency of Canada & Canadian Institute for Health Information. (2011). Obesity in Canada: A joint report from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Ottawa: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada .

Rehrer, N. J., Freeman, C., Cassidy, T., Waters, D. L., Barclay, G. E., & Wilson, N. (2011). Through the eyes of young people: Favourite places for physical activity. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 39, 492-500.

Shaw, K., Anderson, D. M., & Barcelona, B. (2015). Parental perceptions of constraints to family participation in nature-based, outdoor experiences. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education and Leadership, 7(1), 3-19.

Stafford, I. (Ed.). (2011). Coaching children in sport. Abingdon, Oxon.

Stone, M. R., & Faulkner, G. E. (2014). Outdoor play in children: Associations with objectively-measured physical activity, sedentary behavior and weight status. Preventative Medicine, 65, 122-127.

Thompson Coon, J., Boddy, K., Stein, K., Whear, R., Barton, J., & Depledge, M. H. (2011). Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environmental Science & Technology, 45, 1761-1772.

Tremblay, M. S., Shields, M., Laviolet, M., Craig, C. L., Janssen, I., & Connor Gorber, S. (2010, March). Fitness of Canadian children and youth: Results from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 82-003-XPE: Health Reports, 21(1), 1-14.






Regular Papers