Hiking is a great activity for people of all ages! It is a perfect activity to share with children. Today, I am going to go over the ten first things to teach your kid about hiking. These are not only lessons for hiking, but they are lessons for life! After reading this, I hope the next time you hit the trail, you take the kids, and make it a learning opportunity. Use these ten lessons to get you started! Enjoy!
- Pack Smart
Every hike is unique, so it’s important to teach your kids how to pack for the specific journey. In the summer, nearly any hiking distance requires water and sunscreen, but depending on the trek, you may also need to include snacks and a small first aid kit. For winter hikes, you’ll want extra socks, hand warmers and spikes for your shoes. Take this as your opportunity to preach the mantra “Always be prepared!”
- Be Prepared for Emergencies
Speaking of being prepared…this is a great lesson to teach kids! When hiking, it’s a great idea to carry a fully charged cell phone (with GPS tracking turned on!) with you, but it’s also smart to notify someone not with your group of your whereabouts and give them an estimated time spent on the trail. You should always tell someone before you go hiking! In addition to this, you should hike with a first aid kit, and perhaps bear spray or another animal defense depending on the area.
- Know how to Read a Map
This will depend on your child’s age, but start to introduce the idea of maps as early as possible. Show them where you start and where your destination is. Don’t only show them this on your phone, show them on a nice old school paper map and talk about directions. If you have a compass, start to introduce that as well! These are timeless skills that will benefit your child.
- Have a Plan in Case of Separation
No one wants to think of this as a possibility, but refer back to Number 2 on this list, and you’ll understand why we need to talk about it! If you do get separated from your child on the trail the best things to teach them are to stay in place and to stay on the trail. They could seek shelter from sun, but they should stay in place and as close to the trail as possible. You could also have your child hike with a bear bell or something similar that could make a loud noise if it makes you feel better!
- Keep a Safe Distance From Animals
If your kids are like my kids, they LOVE animals. My kids also seem to be fearless with animals. They think they can do things like pet the squirrels! I am constantly having to remind them that we can’t approach wildlife the same way we can a house pet. You can also teach them that certain animals could be poisonous, so we need to respect the wildlife and their home.
- You Might Have To Go Potty Outside
This is a good one to prepare for before a hike. Not only will it help you talk your child into going to the bathroom pre-hike, but it will help avoid a potential meltdown later. Start to introduce the idea, and teach them it’s normal, even cool!, to go to the bathroom in the wilderness!
- Plants Can Be Poisonous
Just like animals, plants can be poisonous, too.. Teach children to talk to you about plants before they touch them, and especially before they eat them! I always loved learning about edible plants as a child, but my parents were careful to teach me to always ask before I ate.
- Communication Is Important
Communicating with your fellow hikers is important. If you step over a big rock, or duck under a branch, warn the person behind you. If you hear a strange noise in the woods, speak up! If you see a snake or insect, or a beautiful plant, talk about it! Hiking is better and safer when you are all communicating!
- Leave No Trace
Teach your children to be Earth warriors and to respect nature. Leave the trail the same as it was when you arrived. Or even better, bring along a bag and clean up a bit as you go! It’s extremely important to teach children about protecting the environment.
- Hiking is Fun & Nature is Cool
One of the most important things about hiking with kids is remembering that you set the tone for the hike! If you are stressed out and mad at your kids before you get out the car, none of you are going to have fun. So take a deep breath,get excited about nature and hiking and spread the joy to your children! They will love it! Skip, sing, and dance through the forest as you make memories to last a lifetime!
I hope you enjoyed this list, and that you are excited to get outside hiking! It is such a special activity to share with loved ones, and hiking is truly full of SO MANY learning opportunities. Every hike has something special to offer. I am always looking forward to my next hiking adventure! What is my list missing? Please let me know in the comments!
Much Love & Happy Travels,
*This post contains affiliate links, this means I receive a small commission for the sales made. I only recommend products I myself would buy. Thank you in advance.