Getting outside is one of life’s most simple and pure joys. It gives us a chance to connect with nature, it keeps us fit, it gets us away from technology and helps us blow off the steam of daily life. But for those of us with kids, it can be a bit of a hard sell to get the little ones out on the trail. We’ve come up with a handful of tips to help your kids fall in love with the great outdoors. Check out our top 5 tips to get kids excited about a walk in the wild!
1. All the gear is the right idea.
Before you set out on your debut wilderness walk with the kids, you’ll want to make sure that they’re well prepared for the adventures that lay ahead. There’s nothing worse than a long walk in the wrong footwear. Make sure your kids are wearing comfortable shoes and socks, that are sturdy and lightweight. If you take them out in sandals or skate shoes, you’ll soon be giving shoulder rides or plastering blisters. Of course, not everyone will want to invest in top notch boots straight away, but a good pair of hiking socks is a cheaper option, and will go a long way towards preventing blisters and whining. When you’re shopping for socks, look for a pair with a blend of nylon and merino wool. These materials wick (absorb) moisture, and are lightweight and breathable. Check out our range of kid’s footwear options here.
2. Choose the path of least resistance.
If your kids are new to hiking, it’s important that you ease them into it with a slow, gentle introduction. Pick a trail that might offer them something you know they’ll love. Maybe there’s a great swimming hole along the way, or perhaps you know of a path that’s full of beautiful bird life. Don’t make their first experience a hike in the rain, up steep hills for hours on end. It sounds obvious, but we want the little ones to fall in love with the great outdoors, not look at it as a chore or a punishment.
3. Every walk is an adventure!
What is hiking, after all? It’s a long walk in the bush, and from a kid’s perspective it sounds like a bit of a snooze, right? So think about how you can adjust the way you pitch it to your little tykes! A ‘wilderness adventure’, or a ‘mountain quest’ sound a lot more enticing to young, imaginative minds than a ‘long walk in the bush’. Try building a narrative into your trip to keep the kiddies interested, and you’ll be blown away by how quickly they’ll be nagging you to take them on the next mystical maraude! Are there goblins in these hills? Or buried treasure? Or talking monkeys? You’re the architect of this adventure, so get creative and take your kids on a journey they’ll never forget!
4. Listen to the littlies.
Everyone loves different things about the outdoors. Some people love creeks and waterfalls, some love bird-watching, others love the physical challenge. The point is, your kids aren’t necessarily going to get a kick out of the same things that you do, so listen to them along the way and observe what piques their interest. Maybe they’ll be drawn to a weird shaped rock, or a spooky looking tree. You can constantly be tweaking your methods to maximise the good times on the trail, so listen to what gets your kids the most excited and nurture that enthusiasm!
If you’re looking for some track inspiration, check out a few of our favourite spots from around Australia and New Zealand.
5. When the going gets tough, it’s time to go home.
Inevitably, little legs are going to get tired a lot quicker than your long ones. You know the limits of your child’s energy, so take them home before they crash and burn. A meltdown on the trail will leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, and will make it a whole lot harder to convince the entire family to get into the next trip you have planned. If everyone heads for home with a smile on their face, you can consider the adventure a success!
Any kind of walk in the wild is a fun, healthy, positive activity for the whole family. It teaches kids to appreciate and respect our environment, so that they’ll help take care of it for years to come. Getting your kids out on the trails might seem like hard work, but with a little forethought you can set them on a path that will reward them with a lifetime of outdoor adventures.
Before you head into the outdoors with your family, make sure you use the Mountain Safety Council’s Plan My Trip tool.