A family camping trip is a great way to encourage kids to be active and connect with nature. But sometimes reality differs from expectations. It can take a little bribery and a lot of persuasion to make a camping trip happen. It doesn’t always have to be that way.
Below we look at a few tips on how to make hiking fun for kids.
Test sleepover at home
If your kids have never been hiking, set up a tent in the yard or even in the house. Let them play or sleep there. This makes it easier for them to get used to their new surroundings.
Plan your camping trip together and discuss the adventure
Let the kids decide for themselves what type of camping trip you will take. Even if they are too young to choose a location, you can give them a choice: Should we hike the river today? Climb some rocks? Look for the biggest tree? Create anticipation for the adventure by giving them a sense of ownership of the trip. No one wants to feel like they’re being dragged along.
Give kids something important to do
Kids like to be involved in adult activities. Give them responsibility for meaningful tasks. For example, gathering kindling for the fire or fetching water. Proudly acknowledge their contributions.
Bring a friends
Other children can be the best motivators on a camping trip. Invite your child’s friends or other family to go camping with you. Kids will be so busy learning about their friends that they’ll probably forget to ask you how much farther to go.
Move at their pace
Let your children set the pace of the hike, even if it is much slower than you are walking. For children, the journey is often more important than the destination. You will have enough time to hike so that you take your time and can afford to check things out. A slower pace will allow you to see things at your children’s level. They will want to touch and feel things, and they will inevitably find wonderful things you missed.
Take your kids on different hikes
Take your kids on different hikes and gauge their reactions. If a winding walk through a thick forest doesn’t help, find a trail for an easy hike that starts high up and gives you stunning views. Or grab flashlights, headlamps, or cheap glow sticks and head out at night on a local trail.
Grab a big bag with lots of snacks
Kids burn calories faster than you think. Pack a variety of snacks. Ask your kids what they want to eat and have them help you pack snacks or carry some snacks in their backpacks. This can be a good time to try some of their favorite treats that they only eat on special occasions.
Make a game out of camping
Tell a story or create an imaginary scenario on your hike; maybe you’re all superheroes who have to get to “enemy base” before the sun goes down, and the only way to charge your power is if you identify and bypass some objects in your path. Use your imagination.
Consider giving your children a reward, such as a small treat, hand stamp or sticker, when you reach certain landmarks along the trail or if they identify a certain number of plants, trees or other objects.
Don’t litter and clean up after yourself
It’s never too early to teach your children to take care of nature. Encourage them to look and touch, but leave things where they are. Ask them to see how they can apply principles of behavior – like respecting wildlife, throwing trash properly, or taking care of others – while you’re camping. Find games and activities you can do with your kids outside.
Bring a journal, sketchbook, or camera (instant cameras are a great option) and encourage your kids to explore and record their hike.
Let them carry their own gear
Even the youngest kids love to carry a (small) backpack. Give them just a few items, such as snacks or a whistle. Older kids may want binoculars or their own trekking poles.
Understand your children’s condition
You know your children best. If they are hungry or tired, read their cues and take a snack or water break. Know how far away you are from the trail and decide when it’s a good time to turn around, even if you haven’t reached your destination yet.
As you can see, it’s not complicated at all. By preparing well for the hike, both you and your children will enjoy your time together, despite the vagaries of nature and the challenges along the way.
About the author: Julia Miller is a mom of two beauties and a part of a team of professional writers who run their own blog https://garnetics.com/blog/ about TV and outdoor living. She has been writing for more than 7 years. In her free time, she is passionate about developing her business and DIYs.