Some tips for bringing young children out on the trail

On The Trail

It goes without saying that the priorities and interests of children in the wilderness can vary greatly from those of their parents. Be aware that the beauty and solitude of the outdoors may not really appeal to kids as much as adults. They more often are interested in what’s at their feet, what’s that sound they hear, or how many cool rocks and sticks can they find. Here are some tips and tricks to help your young ones pass the miles.

Photo by David Heinrich

  1. Play games. Games that can be played while continuing to walk are ideal. They allow you to distract your kids while still making miles. Recommendations:
    1. I Spy
    2. Guessing game (What animal starts with a “Z” and has stripes?)
    3. Counting games (Let’s see how many butterflies we can find)
    4. Bird or animal imitations
  2. Tell stories. Ask your kids what they want a story about. Stretch it out. Get the kids involved in parts of it. Bring in aspects of your hike. This can work wonders.
  3. Make frequent rest stops. Let’s face it, kids don’t have the attention span that most adults do. For this reason, make sure you take plenty of rest stops when hiking with your kids.
  4. Bring friends. Hiking or backpacking with another family with kids of similar ages can make a huge difference in the outlook of your own kids. Even if you run into a family you don’t know on the trail, think about budding up with them if you’re headed in the same direction. The distraction from the hiking can increase your kid’s endurance many times over.
  5. Know when to call it quits. A miserable kid on a hike will make everyone miserable. Don’t let the destination cloud your decision on when to turn back. For kids, the view of a neat lake or overlook is rarely as rewarding as it is for the parents.
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