If you are thinking about getting your children into the great outdoors or out on a hike and not sure where to begin logistically, then you came to the right place. Whether you yourself are a beginner or it’s time to dust off your own packs that went into storage since you became a parent, then you will want to keep reading. Get comfortable and allow me a moment of your time as I share some insights and realities from one parent to another.
If you type “Hiking with Children” on any search engine, multiple options are returned. Including images of smiling children playing in the snow, under the sun. Look even closer and expensive name brand labels on a six month olds jacket start to appear. Or maybe, you find the step-by-step list provided by the experts of what to pack which can also include high end dollar products. But, real quick before I get in trouble with any brand name companies, I will tell you they are expensive for a reason. The gear and clothing is designed to take you further on your journey. To protect you in multiple elements and terrains. Believe me, I have invested a lot of money into specialty gear like this Osprey pack (just an information link.) Although some of it now has yogurt stains, formula stains and who knows what other food stains. Regardles it is all irrelevant because this is about taking those first steps of hiking with children. Which I honestly could have made in one point to support this blog and relieve you from my digression.
Ready, here it is, every “Google search” and “Experts Opinion” I have read can be summarized into the following: GET EXCITED about the outdoors. Let your kids see that. Get jacked about the outdoors and the possibilities. As soon as you hit the trail, location, new planet surface, start talking to them. Seriously, it is that easy. A label or checklist has nothing to do with a smile that I can control on my childs face when we are in the woods. These emotional moments are going to plant memories deep into your child’s mind for their lifetime. There are times when I think we are going to hike for two miles and we only go 100 yards. Because instead of trying to get to a waterfall, we are now looking for a woodpecker tapping on a tree or a potato bug grabs my daughter’s interest. Few minutes later my son identifies round rocks as dinosaur eggs. A deer, a flower, a stream, show them, engage and get excited. Keep talking to them about nature, geology, flowerology, treeology, cloudology, I really believe, through personal experience, it is that easy.
Again, do not complicate these moments. Put any type of pack on their back (name brand Thrift Store.) Pack it with grub they are going to enjoy. Personally, part of the reason I go hiking is to eat jelly beans and gummy bears. Throw in a magnifying glass, binoculars and a whistle which can be obtained at a local Dollar store.
Please also know what you will not see on search engine returns are images of the muddy shoes and wet clothes in the car from the unexpected thunderstorm. Scrapes and bug bites that will take place. But also know, if I make those moments a big deal, my children will quickly forget about the hike. I can clean the car later. The clothes will dry out. Booboos are forgotten about with a Paw Patrol band-aid. And then one day you will no longer be carrying a newborn on your back, but instead trying to catch up to your children as you head out for an overnighter in the wilderness. With that said, I hope you stick around as we keep turning little steps into a journey.