Head for the hills’and trails’with the kids

With warmer temps looming so close you can almost taste it, Canadians will soon be spending more time outside. Author

hikingpicture

With warmer temps looming so close you can almost taste it, Canadians will soon be spending more time outside. Author of A Walk for Sunshine: A 2,160-mile expedition for charity on the Appalachian Trail, and an avid hiker, Jeff Alt is a big advocate of hiking as a family activity. He’s trekked across Ireland with family in tow, and took his son on his first family hike at 8 weeks old. He has these tips for teaching kids to enjoy hiking (and as every parent knows, that will make it enjoyable for you too!).

Stop driving everywhere. Walk to the grocery story. Walk to a local restaurant for dinner and back. Walk to the library. Make walking and hiking as routine as brushing your teeth.

Be prepared. Take a walk with your family once a day. Walk around the block, go to the park, go to the beach. Get maps and books and search out and find new places to go.

Practice. Take small kids out around the neighbourhood in your child carrier to make sure your kids get used to it before a hike.

Make a plan. Get magazines, videos, and artwork that show places you want to go. Use the internet to look at maps and pictures of wildlife and spectacular scenery you want to visit one day. And involve kids in planning the trip. Older children can use the computer to research your destination.

Go high tech. If you’ve got a computer geek or two in the bunch get them interested in adventure technology. Take along a GPS, pedometers, headlamps, flashlights, and teach them how to use it before you go.

Let kids take the lead. This helps you focus on what they’re interested in and when they find something interesting, for example a small animal or even a rock, stop and explore it with him or her.-Let the kids (especially teens) bring a friend.

Wear the right gear. Dress in layers, but no cotton. Stick to synthetics, fleece, wool, and waterproof breathable clothing. Pack bug repellant and sunscreen.

Pack lots of snacks. Having their favourite snacks encourages kids to eat and stay energized. And pack more food than you think you will need.

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