Hiking is a great way for kids to have fun outdoors and learn to love being active. For kids just starting out, though, there can be bumps along the way.
These tips can help make your family hike a success:
1. Be prepared
Make sure everyone is wearing appropriate clothing including the proper shoes, hats, and sunscreen. Pack water and everyone’s favourite snacks. Remember to carry wipes and bandaids in your pack. And if you have room, a change of clothes can come in handy especially if someone has done some extra enthusiastic exploring in the mud or water.
2. Find an interesting route
Pick a scenic trail or destination that includes waterfalls, a lake, or rocks kids can climb on. Any nature walk will work, though. For city kids, just getting away from the concrete is a major shift and there will be lots to excite them.
3. Have some games in your back pocket
Be ready to start a scavenger hunt or play games like Hide and Go Seek, or I Spy. Games help kids move forward on the trail.
4. Unleash their imaginations
Kids love to pretend to be adventurers, scientists, and explorers. Props like binoculars, pencils, and notebooks make them feel like they are the real deal without adding much weight to the adult’s backpack. Or they might even want to carry their own tiny packs.
5. Invite a friend
Friends make everything easier. A child that just can’t walk one more step will be suddenly energized when her friend sprints forward to explore a fallen tree or a creek.
6. Adjust your own expectations
It’s okay if the hike takes twice as long with children. There may be tears, frustration, and fatigue. When you’re in the thick of a difficult time, be a positive role model and realize that this may not be the hike you would be having if you were solo, but you are creating a foundation for your child to love movement and the outdoors.
7. Take baby steps
Respect where your child’s at physically. Not making it to the viewpoint or lake is okay. It also gives you something to work towards next time.
8. Know when to quit
It may be bad weather, fatigue, or other circumstances. Throw in the towel and call it a day. If it wasn’t a huge success one time try again another time.
Getting out together in nature is a great way for kids to develop skills, learn to be comfortable outdoors, and shift everyone’s moods. It may take some doing but you’ll never regret hitting the trails together.