Jan 24

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Hiking With Children

Hiking With Children: Hitting the Trail with Kids

family hiking trail

Family Hiking Trail

On a first glance going camping with children seems like a scary proposition. Everything goes wrong and the adventurous parents often end up looking like irresponsible idiots. But is that actually true? Is it actually that dangerous to go out on the open road and the forest trails with your kids?
Not if you do it correctly. Sure, there are a number of dangers out there, but then the city is full of them as well. The only difference is that we and they know one environment better than another. So, it can be done. You just have to make sure that you familiarize your kids with the safety procedures for the outdoors, as well as the dangers of the specific environment you’re at as well as following these easy tips.

Know what hikes your kids are capable of

The first thing you’ll want to know is in what kind of shape your kids actually are. Can they handle a grueling 10 hour hike or are they already exhausted by taking out the garbage? (Funnily enough, both are true for my kids).
If you’ve not gone hiking before, it’s a good idea to do a trail run somewhere nearby. Find a park or a green area where you can walk for a while together and see how long they last before their energy starts to wane. When they start asking how much further it is repeatedly, you know you’ve about reached their limit.
Going on a couple of these kinds of trail runs will prepare you and them for the real thing. You’ll know what’s possible and you’ll even start figuring out what you should bring and what isn’t really essential.

Carefully consider your pack

By packing carefully and cleverly you can make sure that emergencies are easily kept at bay. What’s more if you do get into trouble, these things can be real life savers. Some things that you should take include:
• First aid kit – this includes things for cuts, bruises and antibiotic ointments to make sure cuts don’t get infected. Some kind of painkiller that’s suitable for kids is also useful.
• Water and food – everybody should have at least an eight ounce bottle of water. It’s also a good idea to pack fruit and nuts as these can help keep the hangry at bay.
• Compass and maps – it’s always a good idea to let your kids learn how to navigate in forests and in the wild using just a map and a compass. Be sure to let them try. Just make sure you look over their shoulder so that they don’t lead you too far astray.
• Layered water-proof clothing – sometimes it gets surprisingly cold sometimes it gets surprisingly hot. Sometimes the sun shines and sometimes it rains. By wearing layered clothing with the top layers being waterproof, you’ll be prepared for it all. Don’t forget to take a plastic bag if you’re using a backpack that isn’t watertight so you can keep your things dry.
• Flash light and matches – you never know what happens. So best to be prepared. And as the wild can get both very cold and very dark, both of these will come in useful. Do note that it’s best not to let the little ones carry the fire-making devices.
• Bug spray and sunblock – yet more items that are essential, getting sunburned or becoming a banquet can put a serious dampener on a day out.

Have some trail games at the ready

Though us adults can sometimes be hugely entertained by silence and the echo of our own thoughts, that isn’t always enough for our kids. For that reason, be sure you have some good hiking games to call on in case of an emergency.
Some good ones are ‘I’m going hiking and I’m taking’ where the next player has to list everything that everybody has said so far and add their own item. Twenty questions is also a great one to keep them occupied (and teach them the power of categorization). Now, don’t for overboard. You don’t have to go into enough depth that you could become one of the professional college paper writers. A handful will do.

There are a lot of good trail apps

Okay, it’s definitely better when you don’t pull out your phone every five minutes. At the same time, having it there for emergencies is a good idea. There are plenty of apps nowadays that can use your GPS positioning to figure out where you are. In that way, if the compass and the map aren’t working out, you can get where you’re supposed to get to all the same.
In addition to Trailsnet.com, another useful online trail tool is AllTrails.com, which will give you access to free app that will point out where you are and where the trails are. That will make it a great deal easier to navigate and find your way back when you haven’t seen one of the trail markers for quite a while.
To conserve power and make sure you have the battery you need to actually make your way back, you may need to turn your phone off. That will make it far less tempting to check your work emails and miss the view.

Make an album

To make sure the experience is still there a few years or decades down the road, try making a physical album in which you stick photos, maps and other mementoes like leaves and flowers. Do check that you’re actually allowed to take the latter as some parks have a leave it where you found it policy.
The great thing about albums like this is that it will allow you to look back on hikes you did before so that the kids have positive memories associated with them (not just of the hike but also of what came out of it).
Similarly, when you’re on the hike you can always focus their attention on finding things that they can put into the album later on. This can become one of the activities that keeps them occupied as you go along.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2018/01/24/hiking-with-children/

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