Make Hiking With Your Kids, Fun & interesting For Them (And For You)!
As we said in part 1 of this article, hiking with your kids doesn’t mean you have to give up hiking…not by a long shot!
In fact, you want to include your children on hikes, so that they too will have an appreciation for the land and the gifts that being outdoors can provide for them.
Spending time enjoying nature can enhance their lives, just as it has (and will continue to do), for you. As parents, we always want to encourage our kids to experience all the good, clean fun life has to offer.
Your kids will have special needs when it comes to hiking, so let’s dig into that right now.
Hiking Gear – Specifically Designed For Kids
Hiking with kids usually means that we will have to carry more things than we would normally have to carry for just ourselves.
Hiking “Gear” For Infants
Interestingly, the most amount of extra equipment you will ever have to carry for your kids will be for the smallest ones, namely, infants.
Look For These Items When Choosing a Kid-Carrier Backpack
- A strong external frame.
- A comfortable, padded seat for your baby.
- Lots of storage space for food, water and other “baby” essentials.
Hiking Gear For Grammar and Intermediate School Age Kid
1. School Backpack (which they may already have) or a waist pack, to hold their water and snacks.
2. Sneakers/Tennis Shoes. These will suffice, unless there is a lot of mud or snow in the trail. (They won’t need hiking boots until they are teenagers).
3. First Aid Kit with additional supplies such as:
A. Multiple sizes of adhesive bandages and band-aids.
B. Bug repellent that is listed as safe for kids.
C. Calamine lotion or similar product that is safe for kids to calm the itching from bug bites.
D. Pain reliever specifically listed as being for children.
E. Tweezers – for the removal of thorns and splinters.
F. Baby wipes – antibacterial.
Getting Kids On The Trail Can Be a Bit of a Challenge
As we know, TV and video games are a big draw for kids, so you may find getting your kids out for a hike may not be easy.
However, for other kids, when given the chance to go outside and do almost any “fun” activity they will perk up their ears and they will be “ready to go”!
Once you get them out on the trail AND enjoying themselves, you will have succeeded in showing them that there’s more fun that they can have in life, than just playing video games and watching TV.
While they may not realize it at the time, you will know that you are starting them out on the path toward experiencing a healthy, active lifestyle.
Keeping Your Kids Motivated and Focused While Hiking
There are 2 specific challenges that you may need to address in order to keep your children motivated and focused to keep going.
Most kids have a lot of energy and they can get bored very quickly if they feel “all they are doing” is walking.
If they are bored and/or don’t feel included or of value, they will be begging to go home, so they can play video games or watch TV. Should that persist, it will ruin the enjoyment of the hike for the rest of the family.
Activities To Help Kids Enjoy The Hike
1. Give them the “responsibility” of taking pictures to document the hike for the family.
2. The distance of the hike is not as important as making sure they have a good experience, so let them play games, like “I Spy” and others while continuing to hike.
3. If your children have good imaginations, let them invent games that they can play, even using (safe) objects that they find along the way.
4. If you will be camping, have them gather wood for a campfire, which can be used for warmth, cooking and roasting marshmallows.
5. Give them a GPS to track how far that all of you have already walked or how much further to the waterfall, cave or other points of interest.
6. Show them how to use a compass and/or trail map.
7. Teach them how to identify poison ivy and poison oak & why to steer clear of them.
8. Explain the value and importance of the “Leave No Trace” rule & let them be part of the cleanup and inspection process for your family during your hike and when leaving your campsite.
Taking your kids hiking, starting at a young age and continuing to do so throughout their teenage years will give them a lifelong appreciation for this healthy lifestyle.
Most National Parks offer a program that will allow kids to become Junior Rangers. There will be a set of activities that your kids will need to complete in this program. Upon successful completion of these activities, they will earn the official title of “Junior Ranger”.
Find out more at Park Visitor centers or online at the National Park Service (NPS).
Their website address is:
To Read Part 1 of This Article, Please Click The Link Below.