Get ready for an adventure!
1. Choose a hike that has a reward at the end of it. A waterfall, a great view, a cave, a pond or another feature you know that will interest your child. This will provide motivation and a natural resting place for a break. Kids can explore the area, maybe finding a treasure or two they can fit into their pockets. Perhaps you could demonstrate how to use a pair of binoculars, observing the surrounding area. Everyone can have a snack and a drink, rested and refreshed for the return trip.
2. Make sure your footwear is appropriate. Flip-flops, although comfortable, aren't going to provide ankle support. It is easy to turn your ankle on loose rock or a tree root on the trail. Don't try out a new pair of sneakers or boots on the hike, nothing ends a hike faster than a blister. You don't have to go out and buy expensive gear, but find sensible foot gear that will provide cushioning and support.
3. Don't forget to bring extra water and snacks. A water bottle for everyone on the hike is a good idea. Good snacks would be fruit like apples or bananas, nuts, raisins, granola bars or something else your family might enjoy.
4. Bring a map and a compass. Learning how to read a map is an important skill everyone should have. I still have a GPS in my car, but sometimes technology leads us astray. Knowing how to orientate yourself on a map is vitally important. Having the skills to figure out the basics of map reading will benefit your child. Point out the compass points, north, south, east and west and what they stand for. Have your child examine the map and guess at what some of the symbols mean. Check the key on the map and see if some of your guesses are right. Review where you begin walking on the map and where you intend to hike. What compass direction will you be hiking in? What do the arms mean on the compass? Your child doesn't have to an expert in compass reading on your first outing, just let them look at the map and compass. Give them a chance to see you using the map with the compass and you will be setting the stage for later learning. This is the kind of learning you want them to absorb while enjoying the process.
5. Choose a hike with safe terrain and a reasonable distance. Children may have lots of energy, but you don't want to overestimate their abilities and exhaust them. Better if everyone has a great time on a short hike than dealing with cranky, tired kids on a long hike. Avoid hikes that might scale the edge of a cliff or involve going up steep inclines. The difficulty of the hike should be gauged depending on the age of the children involved and their mobility. Some kids have great balance and others are less coordinated. The point of the hike is to get the kids to enjoy themselves and have fun. If they have a good time, then they will ask to go on another adventure. Children that associate excerise with fun are more likely continue the habit later in life. Use hiking to create happy family memories!
Brothers Sitting Outdoors by photostock taken on October 7, 2012 from freedigitalphotos.net
Waterfall by taken on October 7, 2012 from freedigitalphotos.net