Let’s face it, hiking is essentially walking, and if there’s one thing kids hate, it’s walking. Hiking is a great way to keep fit and get some fresh air. But how do you encourage your kids to share your passion? Here are some top tips to help get your kids out and about this year:
Snacks, especially unhealthy ones, are great leverage. Remember to stop often so your kids can enjoy them. Take your kids pre-hike food shopping. This is a great way to up the enthusiasm factor. Eating when exercising is a great way to ensure that unhealthy food doesn’t have an unhealthy effect on your kid’s waistlines. Another strategy would be to get some clever products from Health Tree that look like regular kid’s snacks but are packed with nutrition. Just don’t go buy those snacks with them, when they see the health food store, they will know something is up.
Get them involved in planning
Let you kids choose the route you will take on your hike. This not only makes them aware of how far and to which destination you will be going, but it also gets them emotionally invested and excited. If they have a favourite destination, let them choose the route you take to it. Start out with shorter routes and gradually increase the distance as your kids get used to hiking.
Let them bring a friend
Adult company can get boring pretty quickly. Offset this by letting them bring their friends along. Encourage them to play games and have fun together along the way. You should make sure they all know to stick together. Losing your own kids for a moment is bad, losing other people’s means news headlines.
Slow your pace
If you are an experienced and enthusiastic hiker, you may not realise how quickly you walk. Consciously slow down to your kids’ pace. The last thing you want is them to associate hiking with constantly trying to keep up. Also, you shouldn’t be afraid about not reaching your destination. Keeping to a child’s pace means heading back if members of your party are getting tired.
Don’t just hike
Hiking doesn’t just mean that you walk and look at the scenery. Play games to pass the time and keep kids’ minds off how tired their legs are getting. Even simple things, such as calling your days out ‘adventures’, are a great way to up the fun factor. Play games such as treasure hunts and eye-spy to pass the time and make the trip more fun.
Buy them their own gear
Kids like getting new things. Buy them their own hiking equipment, such as drinking bottles, jackets and walking poles. By restricting these new items to hiking use only you will get them both involved and excited.
Follow all of these tips and before you know it, your kids will be pestering you to go out hiking instead of the other way around.
Do you have any tips to add to help get children into hiking? Share them in the comments section below.
Image via Peter Morgan
This piece was written by Mark Enright, a writer for Mountain Leisure Perth, the outdoor equipment specialists.