How to Make Hiking Safe (and Fun) For Kids
Getting your kids to spend time outdoors can be challenging these days. With all the stimulation and enjoyment provided by electronics, television, and toys it can be hard to pique children’s interest in getting out in the sun. Hiking is an answer that many parents turn to when looking for a way to get their kids excited about going outside.
According to Wild Bunch Desert Guides, a company that specializes in Phoenix hiking tours, hiking provides a way to enjoy and explore nature all while getting your kids’ cardiovascular system going. Research shows that as your children traverse over rugged terrain, hop over uprooted trees, and discover new rocks, critters, and foliage, they’ll be exercising not only their bodies but their brains by engaging in balance and agility building exercises. The outdoors becomes a classroom where you can play and explore with your children.
Preparing your kids for a hike may seem intimidating if you’ve never done so before, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of kid-friendly hikes, the equipment they’ll need, and ways to stay vigilant when hiking with them. Below, we have compiled five ways to make hiking safe and fun for you and your kids.
Choose Child-Friendly Routes
When going hiking it’s important to research the route ahead of time to ensure it’s child-friendly. Hiking and trail apps such as AllTrails and Gaia have child-friendly routes you can search through. You can filter these apps to focus only on trails and hiking paths near you. If you’re going with very young children, think about staying on paved paths or thoroughly cleared out areas of forest.
Give Them the Right Equipment
Regardless of how hard of a trek you’re planning on, you’re going to want to ensure your kids are equipped with all the correct hiking gear. If your kids are old enough to carry their bag, give them a backpack packed with essentials such as snacks, warmers, some additional layers like a hat and gloves, and a flashlight.
Take your kids to get their feet measured for hiking boots or sneakers at an outdoor sports store such as REI. Making sure your kids are comfortable and well equipped will make the hike a more enjoyable experience for everyone. Dress your family in bright clothes so you can distinguish yourselves amongst the shrubs and greenery of your hike. Give everyone a reusable water bottle, and if your kids are too young to carry their own then you can clip it to your backpack.
Bring Extra Water and Snacks
Snacks and water are hiking essentials. Even if you triple-check the weather or double-check the hiking route, you still need to remember you’re venturing into nature and nature has no regard for your checklists. That’s why when you’re going hiking you should pack and prepare for the worst, especially if you’re going into rough terrain.
Extra water and extra snacks can help extend your energy during your hike while also providing a safety blanket in case something horrible were to happen. Say you are to become stranded during your hike, for example, you take a wrong turn that your hiking route does not have listed. The number one most important thing to have when you’re stranded anywhere is water.
Make sure your family stays together along your path. Kids enjoy exploring and may be interested in running ahead to explore all the spaces ahead of them during your hike. As wonderful as it is that they’re excited, be sure to have a chat with your kids about staying close during your time hiking. You never know when uneven terrain, poisonous plants, or wild animals may present themselves. It’s important to communicate to your kids that while hiking is fun, you need to be wary of your surroundings at all times.
Have A Plan If Someone Gets Lost
It’s really important to plan for emergencies when you’re going hiking, but one plan you should emphasize with your children is what you should do if someone were to get lost. Kids are known to wander and chances are they’re going to be excited to explore the new spaces you bring them to for their hiking adventures. Before you set off, huddle around with your group and go over your safety plans. Maybe the buddy system works best for your group, or you spit into teams of faster walkers and people who enjoy the strolls.
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