Back in my college days I dated a guy who was very much into everything outdoorsy. He liked to camp and hike and it wasn’t unusual for us to load up his truck and head to this off-the-beaten path spot for some overnight camping. Although the relationship ended, I learned a lot about camping and hiking in the process. Fast forward a great many years and I’ve fallen out of the habit of being outdoors as much as I used to. I remember enjoying it, but when the kids were younger it seemed like way too much of a hassle to even attempt. Now that they’re older, we need to get back into the swing of it, because hiking with kids is awesome.
5 Reasons Why Hiking with Kids is a Must
1. You’re Disconnected and Connected All At Once
Disconnected from technology mind you, not each other. When you’re hiking, there’s little room for playing games and browsing Facebook on your phone. Instead, you talk with one another and explore together. In a society that is online so much of the time, shutting down the devices and enjoying the outdoors is priceless time.
2. Exercise is Good For You
Being outside is terrific, but the exercise you get from hiking even on a flat trail is wonderful. It’s good for your core, your lower body, and your upper body. It helps improve your endurance and overall fitness all while breathing in fresh air.
3. Exploration is Fun
Hiking is a bundle of learning fun rolled into one activity. If you bring nature reference books, you can identify trees and plants. You can make guesses about what animals came the same way when you see animal prints in the mud. Listening to the birds sing in the treetops can soothe the soul. Exploring nature is a lost art in these technology-laden days, but hiking brings kids back to a simpler time.
4. It’s Free
Pick a local trail and head out for a free walk. It’s a great alternative to “entertaining” the kids and gives you all a chance to bond as a family without having to spend any money. Yes, sometimes you need to invest in some basic supplies and footwear before heading out, but once you have the supplies, you have them. There’s no recurring fee or creepy Chuck E. Cheese mouse entertainment that siphons your bank account.
5. It Teaches Kids to Be Prepared
I certainly hope you don’t go jump in the car and head out to the woods without some preparation. Going hiking teaches kids how to be prepared for emergencies and for basic wilderness survival. “Dress in layers. Have water. Carry a first aid kit. Know basic safety and first aid procedures.” Those second-nature things to you are new skills your kids will be learning, so take the time to explain them.
Hiking isn’t for everyone. I know that. BUT, it’s worth trying with your kids at least a few times. Those hours out walking in the woods will be the things they remember, because those are the times that you were disconnected from your devices and present in the moment with them. Family time, memories, and those strong bonds are more important than anything else. So, grab your gear and head out for a walk this weekend with the kids. Enjoy your time together and keep that cell phone turned off unless you need it for an emergency. Have fun!