A lot of kids nowadays are spending too much time indoors, what with TV and screen time taking over their lives, but you know what as adults we kinda spend a lot of time indoors too; work deadlines, cooking, cleaning and so the list goes on. What you need is one awesomely cool family adventure, to get you all outdoors and we’re going to show you how to have the ultimate family hike and how to get the kids psyched too!
Always remember that getting kid’s outdoors, especially on something like a cool family hike, will connect them to nature and get them to appreciate it too, and we need nature lovers to take over as the next generation. But a hike is also an awesome way for you to connect as a family; but the key is about planning and making it fun! There’s nothing worse than going on a hike and 5 minutes into it the kids are complaining, mum and dad are at the end of their tether and it all just lands up in disaster. Believe it or not, this happens often!
Right, so let’s plan the ultimate family hike!
Plan, plan, plan and then plan a little more
The reason why planning is so important is that you need to get the kids really into the activity, and by knowing where you’re going and what you might see, is the first step to get the kids excited about the challenge.
Do some research in your area; check on the internet, go to your local travel visitor centre, ask friends or even take a drive around to see what looks cool and appealing. What you want to find is the best kid friendly hiking spots in your area. Let the kids in on the action, and let them have a say in what adventure path you’re likely to take. Remember that for kids the excitement lies in the adventure that you create not the journey or path you follow. Keep the hike age appropriate, for older kids you’ve got far more scope for adventurous explorers. There can be a higher level of difficulty that will challenge them, and of course you too.
Another important part of the planning process is to make sure that there are some great and interesting things for you and the kids to see on the way… a hidden cave, a waterfall, or even some bird, animal and plant life. You can even try and find out if there are any geocaches in the area that they can search for, or they can even hide a geocache of their own. How cool would that be?
Once you’ve picked your hiking spot, get the kids imaginations fired up about what they’ll experience on their journey.
Create a hiking adventure
You can do this in two ways for the kids dependent on their ages, if you’ve got a slightly younger child then get them a notebook and they can ‘plan’ their adventure. They can draw the hiking trail with a scavenger hunt list and pictures of things they’d like to see along the way; for example they might want to see a lake, a stream, insects, and plants and that mysterious cave is. If you’ve got older kids, they’re more than likely going to be more interested in a geocache in the area then this will be their focus. Let them find out the co-ordinates and try and map it out on hiking trail route. But if there isn’t a geocache get them to plan where they are going to hide a geocache of their own and what is going to be in the geocache. They can have heaps of fun creating the geocache ‘treasure’ which will all add to the excitement of the big day. By getting them involved at this stage, you’re giving them the power to be creative and to get psyched up about the hike. Make sure you pack the adventure book on the day of the hike, and a camera too, so they can take notes and draw pictures; and photos can be added at a later stage.
Of course, you might have one child keen on the adventure book and the other keen on the geocaching, run with it and let them explore and indulge in their passions. If there is of course a geocache in the area you’re hiking, you’ll need the mobile phone for getting to the right co-ordinates, if they’re going to hide their own geocache, you’ll need the mobile phone for this too. Geocaching can add a whole new dimension to the fun.
Time…is on your side, yes it is
Okay, so a little sing along in the title never hurts, but honestly leave loads of time for a hiking adventure. You need time to stop and ‘smell the roses’ as they say. You might find that it will take half the time, but still, kids are explorers and you don’t want to be rushing them along just as they’ve discovered something that has captured their imagination. Take it slow, enjoy the journey and have fun. Point out interesting things and make sure your general knowledge is firing on all cylinders so you can create learning opportunities by giving them some cool and interesting facts.
The joy in a hike is the experience of discovering new things. Of course they will be looking for things they’ve planned to find out of their adventure book, but they’ll find other things along the way too…I mean what’s a hike without the best stick, which can double as a sword to keep the enemies at bay. And what’s more exciting than looking in the underbrush for a geocache, or preparing your own geocache site?
Prepare for every potential outcome
You might feel like a pack mule, but with kids if you think you need it your probably do. Pack extra clothes, binoculars, magnifying glasses and even a camera or two and of course the mobile phone. But the essentials are water, and plenty of it, food and snacks to keep their strength up, a map of course, a flashlight and even a couple of first aid essentials for bites, knocks and bruises. Basically be prepared!
If you’ve got kids of different ages, like a 6 year old and a 14 year old doing the hike, the younger one could run out of steam a bit earlier. Make sure you take frequent stops for a bit of a rest and then carry on with your journey. Loop hikes are a great idea for families as the kids’ interest could be maintained a little longer rather than if you’re walking back on the same path. Be prepared to go off the beaten track if you’ve got some geocaching to do. Remember this is your child’s activity not yours, but you can join in the fun too!
Let your kids be master and commander
Well of course not in every respect, but let them lead the way! They’ll love the extra responsibility of being in charge of the hike, deciding where to stop or which way to go. Let them be the boss for the day. Of course if there’s more than one kid, let them take turns!
Bring it alive
While you’re walking along encourage them to notice things around them; stop for a minute and listen and ask them what they hear and even get them to look for signs of nature like feathers or even burrows, so they can maybe track an animal. This can stimulate their senses about their surroundings. Make sure that they take photographs of interesting things they’ve seen so the adventure book can be brimming with excitement and good memories. If you’re geocaching, let the kids take pictures of the route they take, what they see and how they got there. They can always upload this to our Junior Detectives site!
Teach them the importance of nature
While you’re out and about remind them of the importance of looking after nature; so no littering is important, but also help them to understand the importance of leaving things as they were. What’s in nature stays in nature. This will be a valuable lesson for them. When preparing a geocache site, make sure they are cognisant of what’s around and to leave the geocache site unharmed.
Home, sweet home
Once you’re home keep the magic alive. Go the good old fashioned route and get those photographs printed so they can stick them in their adventure books, of if they’ve hidden a geocache make sure that they spread the word (see point 9 below). Also let them do some research on what they found and make some notes or add funny things that happened on the trail.
Once you’ve done your first adventure hike, why not start planning the next? Again, get the kids in on the action. Get them to start creating their very own geocaching adventures too.
Get your kids to be Junior Detectives
We’re always on the lookout for young detectives to be our eyes and ears around the world. Get them to sign up on our website to be a junior detective and they can share their adventure with us and let everyone out there know special places of interest for other families to enjoy.
If they’ve hidden a geocache, let them spread the word through our Junior Detective programme and challenge other kids in the area to go on the hunt. They can recruit other Junior Detectives too, and from there they can create their very own geocaching club. Awesome or what?
Hope these tips have helped, and please share your adventure hike adventures with us!