It seems like every day we learn more about the incredible benefits of outdoor play for children. Research shows time spent outdoors promotes healthy development of the mind and body. Exploring a natural environment builds confidence, provides opportunities for creative and imaginative play, teaches responsibility and an appreciation for nature, provides both stimulation and relaxation, and get kids moving and physically active.
We all know how much playing outdoors increases our quality of life as adults, but it seems it’s even more crucial for children. For outdoor loving parents getting your kids outside also provides a great opportunity to partake in your own hobbies, while spend quality time together as a family. What better way to fit in some extra outdoor time than by getting our kids out hiking, climbing, camping and exploring with us! However, trying any new activity with small children can be challenging to say the least. No one wants their walk in the park to turn into a tear filled suffer fest. Here #WoolxinAction Team Member, outdoor enthusiast, founder of technologyhiker.com, and proud father of two young boys, Justin Knowles, shares some of his tried and true tips for a successful backpacking trip with young children.
- Justin Knowles
Most kids enjoy exploring outside. With a little planning, parents can encourage children to go on hikes and backpacking trips. Here are a few tips I've used in getting my boys to backpack from age 3.
1. Hike a reasonable distance.
Make the goal achievable & enjoyable. Two to three miles one way is an excellent first backpacking distance. Backpacking should be enjoyable.
2. Go with friends.
Positive peer pressure motivates kids and helps them hike. In camp the children can explore together.
3. Select a quality destination.
Pick a destination that triggers children’s imagination. Climbing rocks, swinging in trees, and swimming in lakes make the trip even more enjoyable.
4. Carry special snacks.
A special treat creates additional motivation for climbing a hill or reaching a goal. I also bring snacks that the kids do not normally have. For our family, gummy bears work well. They are easy to carry, very shareable, and they do not melt. A little bribery does not hurt motivation.
5. Set positive expectations in advance.
Backpacking is an adventure. Get your kids excited about backpacking in advance, so they hit the trail with the right, positive attitude.
6. Kids carry lightweight packs or no weight.
Kids will have a lifetime of carrying loads, and most kids can only carry a light pack at most. Make the trip easier by not loading them down. My oldest has just started carrying a lightweight pack with some personal gear. My youngest does not carry anything.
We hope these tips help you and your family get out and enjoy the outdoors this season! You can follow along with Justin as he and his family explore the west coast and beyond on TechnologyHiker.com and on Facebook: Family Hiker. Twitter: @technologyhiker and Instagram: @technologyhiker and @familyhiker.