Getting your kids started on hiking can be a milestone in their lives.
With a little planning and foresight, walking with children can be a fun and rewarding experience; Or it can be a nightmare for lack of planning.
Hiking is a wonderful way to help them develop a love and respect for nature, stimulate their imagination, and encourage them to be active.
Your first steps on the trail.
If you love nature and want to share and instill that passion with your children, you can start by reading some stories at home with their animated characters. Several children's books on hiking are available: "Curious George Goes on a Hike," "Snoopy on a Hike," "Berenstain Bears Carve a Trail," and "Sheep on a Hike," to name a few.
Stories give you a chance to talk about expectations before you leave home, and they give you something to talk about along the way.
It is important to talk with them about the route: What they can get to see, from the local fauna and flora, to the history of the journey
Doing the first routes with children requires a lot of patience, and of course, a lot of love. You cannot take your children with the pedal on the accelerator, because they do not have the same resistance as you, nor speed; Otherwise, out of frustration you will find a monumental rejection when proposing a new challenge on the mountain.
Where to go?
Launch young children on short trails over easy terrain, perhaps close to town in a national park. In terms of capacity, children can cover about 1 mile for every year they are old.
They may not want to hike that far, but they probably have the ability to do so and keep them busy with activities along the way (rocks to climb, water to splash, etc.).
This is the opportunity to get your clothes dirty without fear of reproach, it is the ideal time to relax from the routine and it is important that you make them see it. Help them to enjoy nature freely and at their own pace.
Older children are often motivated by the promise of something at the end of a trail like a scenic view or waterfall; If she already has a mobile, encourage her to take pictures to share with her friends and family. I assure you that he will keep those photos as the greatest treasure for life (I have photos of my excursions after 35 years).
Don't forget to plan for bathroom breaks and rest stops along the way. Hydration is vital, so equip your child with a backpack according to his age, and supply him with his water and some healthy snacks such as energy bars, dark chocolates without so much sugar and dehydrated fruits not to be damaged on the way.
Clothes and shoes:
Ideally, children (like adults) should be prepared for any weather and dressed in layers. They should also have access to appropriate rain gear. To avoid sore and tired feet it is essential to use Mountain boots or shoes with enough grip to avoid accidents.
Let him try on the shoes at home and walk around in them for several days to get used to and loosen them. This will prevent blisters.
Water and snacks:
As I mention. Bring plenty of both. Try to avoid bringing snacks loaded with sugar and caffeine. They cause spikes (then crashes) in energy levels and tend to promote dehydration.
Security and emergencies.
Learn the basics of first aid administration. The allergic reactions to insects or plants can quickly become urgent.
Talk to them about the risk of finding snakes and what to do in case of it.
Keep children on the road and in sight at all times.
Keep them away from poisonous plants, steep ledges, overhangs, and potentially dangerous falls.
A small first aid kit is great for short walks in case of accidental scratches or insect bites.
It is important that before leaving you talk to your children and explain the hiking route. Where they come from, where they arrive. As well as putting a paper with emergency phone numbers in his backpack for him in case of separation. Inform others of your route, departure and arrival time; And if it is to a national park, register in the visitor's book so that the park rangers have proof and control of both your entry and your exit from the place.
If you are used to hiking, you know that failing to sign out in the guestbook can cause a park ranger to launch an unnecessary search for your whereabouts.
If you or your child have health circumstances, take the medications that you may require, such as an Epipen if they are very allergic.
Depending on the duration of the excursion and the weather, which you must check beforehand. Wet wipes are great for cleaning and also double as toilet paper if needed (bring airtight plastic bags to take home).
Always carry a compass and a map (if you don't have a GPS), a flashlight, waterproof matches, anti-parasite, sunscreen and a whistle.
If there are chances of rain, a raincoat is vital.
Hiking offers the perfect opportunity to instill in children a love and respect for nature that will last a lifetime.
Teach them to respect nature no longer collect plants or animals in the path.
Singing camping songs (quietly) or designing a simple nature scavenger hunt is a great way to engage their minds and teach them about the environment.
If you like birds, teach him to appreciate the song of the birds and plays to identify and replicate their harmonies.
You can teach him to use mobile apps to get home to identify the species of animals from their photos.
The greatest reward of initiating your children into this activity is to leave a mark on their hearts Love for nature, respect for animals; and the opportunity to bond with him in a way he will never forget.
At the time of writing this article, my eyes are watering with longing and memories of people who still remain in contact. My beginnings at the Loyola Excursionist Center, my camping nights at the Rincón Grande Camping between nights of fires and guitars are the memories that I treasure most from my childhood.