You’ve never hiked, your spouse has never hiked, and you’ve never taken your kids on a hike. But you are planning to visit a national park and want to be able to walk the trails so you can see the sites. Or you want to go out with the family, and you’ve decided that a good way to do it is to hike. Both are great reasons to start walking together as a family. Walking together can also have other benefits, such as greater family ties and great memories that you and your children will take home with you, not to mention that it’s a great way to exercise.
I’m part of a big family, and we’ve walked together for years. Part of this is due to the fact that our parents love to walk, but another part is that we enjoy walking together and seeing new and interesting places. However, it can be discouraging to try to figure out how to get all the kids to the end of the trail and back. In this article, I will try to explain how to walk with a large family. Remember, however, that this is from my own experience, and that your experience will probably be different from mine. Mix and match my ideas with your own and expectations to create something that works for your family.
We didn’t wake up one day and say, “Let’s start walking on 10-mile trails. This has to be worked on, especially if you are hiking with several children. When we started, we were walking 400 feet to the lookouts. As we grew older, our skills grew, and we started walking on longer and longer trails.
Therefore, you will have to work up to the long distances of hiking. This can be accomplished by walking on local trails that are somewhat similar to the longer trails you plan to do later. For example, you can start walking a mile or for a certain amount of time (for example, 1 hour) and then work on longer trails and longer time frames. This will also help parents gauge their children’s abilities and select trails that are not above their own abilities. The best places to walk are local parks, state parks, train areas to trails (these are flat and often easy to walk, but usually lack good views), and other local wilderness areas that have trails. The Internet is a great resource for finding trails in your area. In this article, when I talk about “hiking,” I mean hiking trails that are at least a mile long. This information may also be useful for shorter distances, but in general this information applies better to longer trails.
Calibrating Your Child’s Skills
When hiking with your children, evaluate their abilities as well as their desires. Don’t you just want to go further when you say you are tired after the first 10 minutes? Or are you not prepared for a long walk? This requires discernment on the part of the parents and understanding on the part of the children. A good attitude on the part of older children and parents helps: I have discovered that if older children think this is some kind of great adventure, younger children are often more than happy to join in the excitement. Remember, though, that the goal of walking is not to have a forced march that no one enjoys. Having walked with your children before and understanding their abilities, you can choose paths that are within your children’s ability, but that may push them a little further… and then a little further… so that their ability is built slowly.
You may find that older children are much more capable than younger children when it comes to walking long distances. This is not surprising. After all, they have to take two or even three steps to each of their own! However, this does not mean that I should carry the child. I am very sorry for the parents I see who are still carrying their 5 year old child. The parent is snorting and snorting, and the child is there for the ride. We usually took our children until they were about three years old, and then made it easier for them to hike alone or with an older child or an adult. However, even after that, we would occasionally take a child if he had been on a hike for a long time and was tired.
Another way to keep younger children walking is to tell them stories. Parents can do this, as can older children. Some of the younger children can also say theirs, although most of our children preferred to listen to the ones we came up with. Stories can be classics like “The Three Little Pigs” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” or you can create your own.