You can always take your kids to parks and picnic spots. Then why should you plan a hike with them? Well, hiking is an activity that can take your kids more close to nature and let them breathe in more fresh air. But since hiking is also a more tiring activity, you’ll have to prepare and train your children for it. How? Let’s see.
1. Let Them Plan the Hike!
What? Should I let my kids plan the hike? They don’t know anything about it – how can they do it? You may ask these questions. Relax! You don’t have to let them plan the entire trip but should only make them feel that they’ve planned the trip and everything is happening according to their wish – they’re not being dragged into it. If your child is too young to talk and understand what you say, you can plan the trip and wait until they grow up enough. Ask them if they want to explore a cave or walk along the river and fish on the way or collect wildflowers in as many colors as possible in the forest! While they plan the trip, you should be around acting as a helper to give tips and suggestions, but let them make the final decision, so they’d feel that they’ve planned the hike.
2. Start Them Young
The younger your child, the earlier would they be prepared for hiking (if you take them on a hike). If they are babies, that’s even better. This way, you can make hiking a normal weekend activity in their view. Don’t be afraid of whether your child can walk so long or not. You’ll be surprised to see what they can do.
3. Let Them Walk
Don’t let your heart melt only after your child takes a few steps and don’t carry them. They should get habituated to walking. If they realize that you feel bad for them when they walk, they’ll think that walking is a tiresome activity which they shouldn’t do and they will expect you to carry them. On the contrary they should realize that walking and hiking are fun activities, and they should continue them.
4. Give Them Tasks to Do
Children love taking responsibilities. That way their self-esteem is built up and they feel confident. Therefore it’s a good idea to let them perform small tasks such as leading the group, carrying a set of lightweight items such as food items and distributing foods to everyone in the group after a given time interval, etc.
5. Let Them Play and Have Fun
Find safe and suitable spaces and take breaks at regular intervals and let kids play games and have fun. Don’t stop them from doing what they want to do provided they shouldn’t be out of your sight. You should take such ‘game breaks’ often so kids will feel that they get to play a lot on a hiking trip, and next time they’ll be more enthusiastic about the adventure.
6. Let Them Rest
Rest is essential for everyone including children. If children keep on doing something or the other, or playing, they will soon be tired and will lose interest in hiking. So, you should give them enough time to rest.
7. Teach Them to Leave No Traces
Children should have fun on the trip but you should teach them to be disciplined too. Teach them to dispose of trash properly, do ablution responsibly, respect and not to harm the flora and fauna, and be considerate to fellow hikers.
8. Carry a Lot of Healthy Foods and Treats
The food you carry on a hiking trip should be a good mix of healthy foods and treats. For maintaining stamina while hiking, they should eat healthy. Carry a lot fruits, nuts, nutty chocolate bars, milk powder or condensed milk tins, tinned meat and vegetables etc. along with chips, biscuits, donuts and cakes.
You can use your creativity and find even more ways to train your kids and keep them entertained on hiking trips. Once they start hiking regularly, you’ll be amazed to see their improved physical and mental health!