Hiking With Kids
Take a walk and have some fun!
Hiking with my child, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Watching the excitement on her little face as she discovers the wonders of nature, it will leave a lifetime of memories in my mind. It is important to plan a hiking trip properly when you are going to be bringing children into the wilderness though. The first thing you should do is make the trip enjoyable! It is important to make the hike a short one and within the physical abilities of the child. In order to make the hike enjoyable, I always include numerous stops and be sure to point out points of interest or cool stuff I see alone the way.
Of course, I can’t resist making the trip an educational adventure also! If you plan to do this, be sure to do some research on the likely critters and plants and sights you may see along the way. I also like to teach basic safety, such as choosing a proper sight for a campfire and explain the dangers of not choosing a good place for it or how to properly cross a stream. Show the child a map of the planned trip and point out your progress along the way. The hardest thing for me is not walking too fast. I forget that my long legs cover a lot of ground as compared to my kids short little legs.
In order to try and keep her interested along the way, I will play games with her. Some good suggestions would be trying to not walk on any roots or see how many squirrels or birds we can spot along the way. Remembering that the woods can be a very intimidating place for a child, I always try to take the time to explain any spooky noises or scary looking areas we might stumble upon. Another very important thing to teach your child is what to do if they suddenly get lost and can’t find anybody. A little thing I like to tell my little girl is that if she ever became lost in the woods and she didn’t see me anywhere, I want her to sit down under a tree where she can see a wide area and then sing songs to keep her happy. I want her to sing one song or a combo of songs ten times and when she has done that, I instruct her to move over to the next tree and do it again. By doing this, It keeps the child in a central location and occupied and also produces sound, which will make it easier for her to be found quickly.
Let’s briefly discuss hiking gear for your child. Get them a backpack to carry for themselves, it gives them some responsibility and lets them carry some important items. This daypack should not exceed 20% of the child’s own weight. Their clothing should be layered so it can be removed or added depending on the temperature and a canteen of water (or bottled) and healthy snacks should be included also. Never forget to apply sunscreen and bring along insect repellent. Make sure the repellent has less than 30% DEET! A first aid kit, some toilet paper and a poncho should also be included into their pack. Be sure your kid is wearing sturdy and comfortable footwear and an extra pair of socks is a good idea when you go looking for crawfish in that stream you come across.
Well, that’s about it! With a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of preparedness, you are ready to go on a nice day hike with your kids and have a great time enjoying nature! Have fun!
© 2010 Jamie Page