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You have toiled on thousands of tracks and enjoyed the experience and the scenery those hikes provided. But now that you have kids, you do not get to trek as much, but would love to make your kids appreciate nature and hiking the way you did. The question here is, how do you persuade them?
The following is a gathering of tried and true tips scored from hikers who are parents themselves. Keep some of these tips in mind and who knows, next time your kids will turn out to be the ones who will do the planning.
Location and Distances
- For first-time hikers, keep in mind to opt for a track that’s close to your home. That way, you will be able to manage your kids’ meals, rest or any emergencies quickly and easily.
- Hikes, especially for beginners, don’t always have to happen at home. Hitting the city and checking out the area’s landmarks are a good way to get them into the groove of walking and learning.
- Keep track of your children’s focus. Do some preplanning and research on the area first to keep the hike interesting. Connect some aspects of the hike to your kids’ interests; for example if he or she is into drawing, you can tell them about the various plants and flowers tribal people often used to color their art or tell them about the exciting, artwork-inspiring views or scenery related to the area.
- Any areas of water excites children so make sure to choose a track nearby with a gurgling brook, a pond or a waterfall. Caves also provide plenty of excitement and discussion. But make sure those areas are safe to explore.
- Lead your kids outside each day and help them look for things of interest like a certain flowering plant, a lizard or a mushroom. Sometimes a child’s natural curiosity will eventually lead them to question more, and most importantly, find the answers. So take them to the nearest park or museum, anything related to nature and hikes, and fill up their yearning for knowledge.
- Make sure that you engage your kids into the preparations. Ask them what places they want to go to the most and suggest they can bring along a certain toy (non-electronic) with them. Fill their day packs with appropriate items like a rain jacket, a small first-aid kit (novelty bandages are always a hit), a whistle and compass then demonstrate how to use them.
- Make sure to include in your pack additional clothing for the children in case of emergencies. A cozy jacket and dry shoes are always a relief for grumpy kids.
- If you are hiking with your family on hot days, tote along a spray bottle filled with water. You can mist your kids with it to keep things—and tempers cool.
- Remember to throw in some of their favorite snacks. Hiking takes plenty of energy and children have a lower energy level as compared with adults. Cheeses, gummy candies, M & M’s and nuts are always great choices.
Pace of the Hike
- Keep things at a relaxed pace. Do not push your kids, especially if they are getting restless and bored unless you want them to be turned off at the idea of hiking forever.
- Be prepared at sudden changes in plans.
- Follow the children’s pace and make regular stops along the way.
- Keep them from getting bored during the hike. Permit them to be preoccupied and let them follow whatever grabs hold of their attention.
- Do not prepare an agenda on your first few hikes. The goal here is to guarantee that the kids’ experiences will be fun so they will commit to this activity.
Keep Everything Fun
- Play games during the course of the hike to keep children interested, like a scavenger hunt. Geocaching is also a great idea. Kids are always excited about retrieving lost treasures.
- Have them recognize plant and flower species along the way. Carry prizes for the kid with the highest points, like stickers or a favorite snack.
- Let your kids be themselves. You can bring props to wear and carry during the hike like binoculairs. Two-way radios are also guaranteed fun.
- Make them look at attention-grabbing objects like bugs, trees, animals or leaves. Let them scramble over rocks, climb trees and jump on stumps.
- To make the hike interactive, bring along field books or a magnifying glass. Identification books featuring flowers, plants, trees and birds are also great to tote along. Provide a camera for your kids and let them categorize and take pictures of birds, flowers or any object they fancy during the course of the hike.