Hiking with kids
My family loves to camp and we’ve gone on hikes through mountains and prairies. The kids enjoy it and we always discover something new. If you haven’t shared this experience with your children yet, it’s not too early or too late to start.
Jeff Alt of Cincinnati, Ohio is a hiking expert and has written a book on how to get your kids hiking. He says even before they can walk, take a daily stroll outside. It’s exercise for you and stimulation for the baby.
As the child grows older, the game changes. Let the kids lead and get down on their level. Whatever they show interest in, you show interest in too.
"What’s amazing is that you start to relive some of your own past experiences," says Alt. "That creek may have become old news to you, but it’s brand new to them, and you can see it in their eyes. Then, they more excited when they see that they pulled you into it and they’re in control. That’s huge because it’s an adventure now, and they’re leading it."
You don’t have to spend an arm-and-a-leg on fancy gear. Trail shoes and synthetic clothing will keep you comfortable, and trekking poles help with stability. Bring along water, snacks, and an adventure pack with things the kids can explore with.
"A magnifying glass so they can look at that pill bug up close, or some binoculars so you can look way out at the brilliant colors," says Alt. "Just items that would add to the experience out there. Maybe bird identification guides or tree identification guides for the older kid who’s now reading."
Tear older kids away from the computer games by having them plan your hike. They can use technology on the trail with a hand-held GPS for a geocaching adventure. Let them bring their smartphones and take pictures for the family blog or social media sites like Facebook.
Check out a checklist of stuff to bring with you
The Washington Trails Association offers tips for hiking with kids
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