Lightweight backpack hikes can help having to endlessly entertain your kids especially during school vacations. It can be exhausting for you to suggest activities that kids reject from stubbornness, right? When you teach a child about Nature, you’re opening a door to explore that will forever widen. Speaking of exploring, let’s dig into why hiking will motivate benefit the kids physically and mentally, and how to get started enjoying hikes as a family.
Cultivate Their Need To Investigate During A Hike
From the time babies and toddlers can first see and touch, they are mesmerized by everything around them. Help this sense of wonder continue to keep summer kids engaged in the wonder of the outdoors . Part of preserving wilderness for future generations is teaching our youth to appreciate and enjoy nature.
Since birth, you teach your kids on a daily basis and you witness them experiencing many “firsts.” They take those first steps and may even get into trouble now and then, but the learning shapes their future. You get excited watching them discover life and they’re eager to witness nature’s amazement’s. Once a child goes to school, we tend to relax a bit and let the teachers do the teaching. Ask any kid and they will admit that school becomes boring at times. I’ll bet your kids become bored with the same tablet games and toys after time. Why not seize the moment to play “school” with your youngsters…in the form of an “adventure” outdoors instead of a classroom.
What If I’ve Never Been Backpack Hiking?
Lightweight backpack hiking may sound very intimidating because you may never have done it. There are many forms of hiking, from a 2 hour day hike to a 2 week backcountry thru-hike, over miles of wilderness. When it comes to introducing children to hiking initially, you will save yourself undue frustration if you start with a brief trail hike and combine it with a packed lunch or picnic supper. If you, as a parent have experienced hiking, it will be easier to introduce your child to the sport.
If not, there is nothing wrong with learning together. The best rule of thumb is to gently guide, don’t push. You’ve probably noticed that when you are excited over something, it gets the kids fired up. Even if you have a resistant-to-suggestion child, many times that’s an act you’ve witnessed before. Once you set out on the trail and begin your journey, the adventure mode will kick in because excitement is contagious.
Hiking Treks Need Not Be Complicated
Let’s say you are a first time experimental hiker. Are you concerned about where to go and how far? What if you meet resistance, which may come in the form of fear? Adults may feel a bit out of shape from a desk job. Kids may get freaked out over flying insects. . Have no fear folks because planning is simple. Start by checking your city and state online to find local hiking trails. There are usually reviews from other families that will help you decide where to go each time and they are helpful. The whole family will benefit from some walking, which is really all day hiking is. Bugs are everywhere outside, so a repellent can solve that issue, either natural or store bought. Many kids are fascinated by bugs because they rarely see them up close, so it becomes suddenly awesome to view them.
A lightweight backpack is perfect for a day hike. It will be comfortable carrying your basic necessities, because it won’t feel burdensome. Choose light hiking bags for kids and make sure they are not carrying too much weight. Give them items such as binoculars or a light jacket, a snack and a water bottle. Parents can go a bit heavier and carry extra dry clothing, first aid items, a picnic blanket plus their own water and the family food for the day.
What Do We Wear On A Day Hike?
Dress in layers so everyone is warm when they need to be and can remove clothing when they get sweaty. Earlier in the day you may be cold and end up hot later on, so layer pants on top of shorts. It’s easier to remove clothing layers than to stop and add clothing.
Good preparation includes supportive shoes, hiking boots, or sneakers if on a paved or sand trail. Socks are important also, in spite of summer when you’d rather head out in flip-flops, but don’t do it! If your feet aren’t comfortable, you won’t be. Wear a hat and sunglasses in the sun and be sure to use sunscreen. It’s always a good idea to bring extra socks in your hiking bag because kids will find dirt, mud and water in a heartbeat.
Hiking Treks Should Start Flat And Slow
Beginner hikers may prefer straight path hikes rather than those involving uphill climbs. Adults and kids should stretch before hiking to teach about bodies and what you’re expecting them to do on a hike. Make it a priority to take plenty of water for all hikers. Take several breaks and encourage hydration and snacks for energy, although kids seem to have boundless stamina. Try not to let them get too tired, too thirsty, too hungry or too bored.
Explore Everything On Your Hiking Excursion
A successful hiking trip isn’t just about walking from point A to point B. It consists of wonder, joy and excitement over discoveries. Encourage the kids to turn some small rocks over and observe what they see. Bring a magnifying glass in your hike pack. Point out the sounds of birds and wild animals. If you’re familiar with them, teach the kids the names. If you aren’t, record their sounds on your phone and see if you can identify them via the internet when you get back home. Whenever possible, choose a trail with a creek, pond or waterfall. There is so much to discover there. Wear your water shoes and beware of rocks that can be slippery from moss.
Make the hike a fun time. Put a Ziploc bag in your child’s backpack. Give the kids a list of things to find before lunch, such as something smooth, a wildflower, a pine needle or something squishy. Give them plenty of time to lift up rocks or examine weird things. You can make up the list with virtually anything found outdoors. Positive reinforcement for a great hunt will keep the kids motivated and curious about what other family members added to their bags.
Exercise An Ounce of Prevention On Hiking Trails
For your first few initial hikes, don’t wander off the trail. Know beforehand and let the kids know what poison ivy looks like and monitor where the children walk. You’ll want to avoid tall grass and thoroughly check yourself and other family members for signs of ticks on pant legs and shirts. Prevention is key, so don’t be scared off from hiking, just be aware and alert to things in nature that should be avoided.
Keep Teaching Kids Throughout Your Hike
A lightweight backpack trip is a good way to emphasize no littering and the importance that being in the hiking world requires responsibility. After we enjoy nature, we leave it as beautiful as we found it with no trace of having been there. Pack a gallon sized plastic bag and encourage kids to put all candy and food wrappers inside, even a tissue after a sneeze. Don’t leave bread crusts for wild animals or empty juice or water containers. They are learning from you to willingly respect the planet.
Be Prepared For Kids Having Kid Moods
You’ll see that short initial hikes will expand in time and distance as you feel more comfortable after experiencing early hikes. Kids can be unpredictable and moody, so be prepared for random situations like a bruised knee from a fall. Carry bandaids, gauze pads and antibacterial cream in your adult pack. Kids frequently have minor injuries whenever they play, so this is no different. Carry some Tic-Tacs as an “energy boost” to end the drama and hike on. My kids always responded to that trick. You’ll work through any typical kid issues to a point where an all day hike or even an overnight camping hike will be incredibly fun
A lightweight backpack hike adventure with kids is family time, making memories and learning what works best for your family. You can choose the duration, fun activities and treats along the way. After a few hikes out, it’ll take less time to get ready and more willingness from the kids to actually look forward to each new exploration. The folks at Nature Trail Backpacks would love to hear your comments below on tips for successful kid hikes and what works best for your family. Help new hikers with ideas you have. All hikers thank you. Happy hiking!