REI wants kids to get outdoors

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We recently published our Family Travel Handbook, which is loaded with tips on vacation planning for parents. And we're always on the lookout for new ways to help parents. So we were delighted to see that gear outfitter REI [Recreational Equipment Inc.] has come up with a clever, free way for parents to encourage their children to explore.

Employees at each of REI's 90 stores put together suggested itineraries for local hikes and bikes, none of which are too tough for beginners. As part of this Passport to Adventure program, kids aged five to 12 can pick up a passport-like journal at any store and use it to record their excursions.

Once kids have completed three of the itineraries, they will receive a passport stamp as well as a certificate of accomplishment and a water bottle--and, REI hopes, a new appreciation for the outdoors. The offer is good through Labor Day, and you can pick the passports and itineraries at the customer service desk of any REI store.

You can find store locations--and preview the biking and hiking itineraries--at REI's website, And if you're interested in taking a guided trip with REI, check out our Real Deal profiling 10 of their offerings, among them, cycling in France and white-water rafting in Canada.

Related: Our Family Travel Handbook has more strategies for entertaining your kids this summer .

[Update: This blog item was revised for clarity since its first posting. The word "stores" was misspelled and the full name of REI was not given.]

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