Should you take your kids hiking? Yes. Getting kids excited for outdoor activities can have many lasting health benefits. There is the physical benefit of outdoor activities as well as a mental benefit, such as a reduction in stress. The benefits are numerous. Hiking is one of those outdoor activities that the entire family can enjoy.
Keep It Simple
When you first start off on your hiking adventure, keep the trails simple. You do not want to discourage the children from going again. The first trails should also have areas that will interest your children. For instance, a trail next to water would be ideal. Most kids love water. A small stream, creek, or pond on a hiking trail will keep a child’s interest. Small water areas usually have lots of wildlife to view such as frogs, tadpoles and even small fish. Kids will get excited about what they view which will also allow time for conversation and further exploration.
Don’t Rush Them
Once you get the kids out on the trails allow them time to explore and discover the natural world around them. Set aside a whole day or at least an entire afternoon to explore. However, at the same time, teach your children to respect nature. You can do this by making certain that they know not to leave their trash behind and to respect the animals’ personal spaces. Teach children to leave sticks, stones, flowers and everything else in their natural places.
One of the main factors to take into consideration is the child’s level of comfort. Children who are too hot or too cold will become uncomfortable and not want to finish the hike. A negative experience can keep them from wanting to participate in future hikes as well. Make certain to check the weather forecast for the day. But at the same time, be prepared for any sudden changes in weather. While packing appropriately for the day, remember to pack extra supplies such as water, snacks, and even a first aid kit.
The most important part of hiking with children is to have lots of fun. Having fun will keep the children motivated and excited for future hikes as well. You can also take cameras; there are a lot of inexpensive digital cameras on the market right now as well as throw away film cameras that can be easily used by children. These cameras will allow kids to photograph the experience. Later on the pictures can be turned into a scrap book or placed in a journal. Photos can also help if you need to identify a bird or other animal. The experience can be used as learning tool.