Prepare to Hit the Trails this Summer!
Now that school is about out for the year and you’ve got long, summer days ahead of you, it can be tough to think of ways to stay entertained that don’t include screens. Outdoor activities like hiking and walking trails can be a great way to escape the heat and keep you and your kids entertained and active. Hiking is great because it’s easy to find different trails to accommodate varying skill levels and it can encourage conversations about plants, animals, and the surrounding nature in general. Here are a few tips to help you make your summer hiking trips the most successful.
Make it a Game
Games are a great way to generate a lot of excitement and avoid boredom! Usually a hike involves some sort of drive to the trailhead, so while you’re traveling, talk to your kids about what kinds of plants or animals you might find on the trail. Write a list of things that everyone is hoping to see and create a scavenger hunt to see who can find the most items on the list (make sure everyone knows not to pick any of the plants). Or, see who can find an item first! Kids thrive on competition and accomplishment, even on the trail. Encourage and acknowledge a job well done, whether they climbed a large rock or spotted the first blue bird.
Explore Along the Way
For most young kids, hiking is as much about the experience along the way as it is the actual destination. Make sure you have plenty of time scheduled out to stop and look at sticks, play in the dirt and study different bugs, trees or birds you might encounter on the trail. All the while, keep the energy flowing by moving toward an exciting destination. Maybe it’s an extraordinary view or a crystal clear lake. Give kids that Are-we-there-yet? excitement by talking about what they’ll see right around the bend or over the next hill. (By the way, it’s a good idea to hold back a game for the return hike so kids stay engaged after reaching their destination “carrot”.)
Bring Plenty of Water & Snacks
An empty tummy can quickly dampen any hike, so make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks for everyone to munch on as you hike. Take time to hydrate and refuel before hunger and thirst sets in. It is much easier to stay ahead of it, especially for kids, than to recover from a deficit when they are physically spent.
Before heading out, plan it out. You’ll have a great time exploring trails and learning about the great outdoors!