Hiking is a great way for families to stay active, and connect with nature. But, in a world of video games and instant gratification, nurturing a love of the outdoors can be challenging.
Here are some ways to make hiking more fun for kids:
KEEP IT SHORT
Avoid long, strenuous hikes the first few times you go out as a family. Difficult hikes feel more like work than adventure.
HAVE A MISSION
Pick enough blackberries to make a pie, or compete to find the biggest pine cone. Print out a scavenger hunt list for little ones, or try your hand at geocaching with older kids. You could even let them bring an old digital camera to record their adventures.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Kids love to climb trees, catch bugs, and throw rocks in the water. Give them the time they need to explore and they'll learn to love nature as much as you do.
HAVE A DESTINATION
Hike through an urban forest, to play at the playground. Take a short hike to a swimming hole, or waterfall. You could even hike to a camp site and roast marshmallows.
FOLLOW THEIR LEAD
Kids LOVE to be in charge! Just make sure that everyone gets a turn to lead the hike.
LET THEM BRING THE GEAR
Real adventurers carry their own stuff. Let them bring a backpack with a few things they'll need on their adventure... a snack, a drink, maybe a pair of binoculars. Carrying their own pack makes them feel important, and gives them a place to store treasures they find along the way.
BRING A FRIEND
Kids love to play tour guide. Encourage them to show a friend around their favorite hiking trail. They'll love pointing out the tadpole eggs you found last week, or the best climbing tree.
Now get out there... and go for a hike!