What do you want?
Family vacations with an active slant—camping and trekking both at-home and abroad. An active and healthy lifestyle the whole family will enjoy and activities that forge self-confidence, promote problem-solving skills and instill a love of and respect for nature.
Sounds great, right?
But first you have to install a love of hiking in your kids. Here's how to do it right:
1. Set Your Expectations
When introducing a youngster to hiking, keep your expectations simple. The daily goal shouldn’t be to reach a summit or even complete the full length of a trail. The expectation is: time spent outdoors, together.
It’s easy to meet and impossible to disappoint—even if the trip is cut short, or weather (or moods) foul. As your family progresses in the sport of hiking, you can fine-tune and extend these expectations. For starters—basic is best.
2. Keep Everybody Well Fed
Hungry kids don’t make happy hikers. Err on the side of too many snacks. Bring treats, too. (Think like a kid—you might be OK with a steady diet of protein gels, but will they be?) Stop for a long lunch. And water, water, water! This is going to mean your pack is quite heavy—as you don’t want to start kids off with overweight backpacks—but any inconvenience will pay dividends in the form of longer days in the woods and far fewer complaints.
When starting out, bribes are OK too. Entice your youngster along with the promise of a cookie and let the magic of nature finish the job.
3. Engage & Entertain
For you, the simple act of Shinrinyoku (forest bathing) or the pleasures of an expansive vista are more than enough. The chirp of a songbird is your favourite soundtrack and you can spend hours identifying grasses and wildflowers.
Well, your kid needs more. You’re going to have to sacrifice serenity in favour of telling funny stories to lure your children through the trail. Create games that distract them from the plodding distances. Make reasonable physical challenges (“I bet you can’t jump over that puddle!”) to engage them on their level—not yours.
4. Invest in the Right Gear
You’re a hardy hiker—a blister or leaky jacket isn’t going to send you back to the car. But kids need to be warm, dry and extremely comfortable at all times. A novice hiker hasn’t yet been bewitched by Mother Nature enough to push through the pain.
This means buying proper gear. Yes—kids need waterproof-breathable jackets, wool-blend base-layers and socks and supportive boots. If you’re serious about cultivating a young hiker, put up the cash to prove it.
The first three are up to you. We can help with the last one though. Shop our catalogue here.