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Gold Prospecting as a Family Adventure: Fun Activities for Kids of all Ages

In an age where technology is such a part of kids lives, putting a concerted effort into showing kids the fun of outdoor activities is more important than ever. We need to get kids off their phones and outside. One fun way to do this is by introducing them to fun activities.

Gold prospecting is a super fun activity to do with kids. Not only is it an excuse to splash around in the water, but it also provokes the natural excitement of finding hidden treasure. The thrill of the hunt!

Family Gold Panning Oregon


Preparation for the Trip


Safety always comes first. While gold prospecting is a generally fun and safe activity, a person should always exercise appropriate caution anytime they venture out into the woods. A few things you should always take into consideration when you go out with kids includes:

  • Proper clothing
  • Sun protection
  • Communication devices
  • Safety equipment
  • First aid kits
  • Of course, as a parent or guardian it is your responsibility to ensure these basic safety precautions are met. But don’t miss an opportunity to teach kids the importance of being prepared. They are never to young to learn the importance of staying within earshot, wearing good clothes and footwear, sunscreen, and other basic safety when out in the field.


    Research and Planning


    We need to plan our adventure for the age and abilities of the kids.

    Taking a group of grade schoolers? Then you should definitely pick a site that is accessible by road, has nearby accommodations, and is generally easy for young kids of that age. Keep an eye on the weather.

    A gold prospecting adventure deep in the wilderness sounds like a lot of FUN! It also might be a great option for older teenagers, but probably not the best bet for small children. Plan your trip according to the capabilities of each person on the trip.

    Are we heading out with a group of capable teenagers and looking for a bit more of an adventure? Perhaps a hike-in camping trip to a promising gold prospecting area is a better choice. Of course a trip like this requires more planning, preparation and care. You’ll have to spend more time researching trails, public land access, weather, and all the variables that you may encounter.


    Prospecting Equipment for Kids


    gold panning instructions

    Gold pans are inexpensive and they are really all you need to get started.

    You should be prepared with some very basic equipment and understand how to use it so you can teach kids how to effectively use it. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE! If you’re going out a group of kids, everyone should have enough gear:

  • Shovels
  • Trowels
  • Gold pans
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glasses
  • It might be beneficial to watch a few YouTube videos about gold panning before you leave home, so everyone has a basic understanding of how it works. Panning is pretty simple to learn for all ages, but a little instruction before they start is a good idea.

    Are you using bigger equipment like a sluice box, or even motorized mining gear? Make sure everyone understands how it works, and how to operate everything safely.

    Bring suitable equipment sizes and types for children, ensuring their active participation and safety.


    Teach the Basics


    Use this as a learning opportunity to teach how gold is deposited and where the best places are to dig. Especially with older kids, they usually want to do things their own way. Give them some guidance and then set them loose!

    This is also a great time to talk about the history gold mining, geology, or cultural significance too.


    Safety Tips and Guidelines


    Water safety is of utmost importance when panning around a creek or river. Kids should be able to swim, and when applicable, have kids wear a life jacket. Summertime panning when water levels are low is the best time to go. Avoid dangerous high water in the spring and early summer.

    This wouldn’t be the best time to go gold panning…

    In arid climates, kids should be aware of flash flooding. Understand that a dry creek bed can be rushing with water in seconds under certain conditions.


    “Salting for Success”


    As we all know, finding gold is never a guarantee. Especially with small children, consider buying some gold dust or a small gold nugget and “salting” their pan so they are guaranteed to find gold.

    This guaranteed success might be what keeps them coming back for more.

    kids gold panning

    Consider buying a small parcel of gold dust or perhaps a small gold nugget or two to “salt” your kid’s gold pan. Finding gold is never guaranteed, and sneaking a little pinch of gold into their pan might foster a lifelong interest.


    Environmental Stewardship


    A good gold prospector understands the opportunity for environmental stewardship. The practices of leaving no trace, proper waste disposal, and respecting the natural surroundings. If there is environmentally damaging historic mining activity in the surrounding area, show them the visible damage and the importance of using modern methods that have no impact on the land.

    They should understand that there are places that are off-limits like:

  • Private lands
  • Mining claims
  • Wilderness areas
  • Tribal Lands
  • Kids should also understand the importance of following the laws and asking permission when required.




    Gold prospecting can be a really fun activity to get the kids out of the house. The allure of gold is a very real thing… even kids love it!

    Let’s get the kids outside and foster a lifelong love for nature and adventure!

    77 Gold Prospecting Tips – How to Find Gold Like a Pro

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