Jeff Alt is someone who knows a little something about hiking. He’s walked the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail, the 218-mile John Muir Trail with his wife, and trekked across a 50-mile path of Ireland with his wife, young daughter, and their extended family. He and his wife emerged from the church doors on their wedding day wearing backpacks, and his son was taken on his first hike at 8 weeks. WOWOWOOWOWOW! Talk about a love for hiking! ?
So, how do you teach your children to enjoy hiking? Jeff says to start early and make it fun!
Start Early-Develop A Routine:
- Let the child lead. This helps you focus on what they’re interested in and keeps you from leaving them in your dust.
- Get outside every day. Take a walk with the family once a day. Walk around the block, go to the park, go to the beach, and river. Get maps and books and search out and find new places to go. See new places all the time.
- Save money and stop driving everywhere. Walk to the grocery store. Walk to your local restaurant for dinner and back. Walk to the library. Make walking and hiking as routine as brushing your teeth.
- Bring the outdoors inside. Educate constantly to generate interest and enthusiasm. Take lots of pictures of the kids and places you go. Make posters for the family and living room and for Christmas cards. Get magazines, videos, and artwork that show places you want to go. Rent movies about faraway places. Use the Internet together to look at maps, and photographs of the wildlife, environments, and spectacular scenery you will be visiting someday.
- Go high tech. Bring on the gadgetry! Turn your computer game nerds on to the adventure technology. (e.g. GPS, pedometers headlamp flashlights, geocaching) and teach them all about how these incredible devices are being used for fun, like scavenger hiking in the Shenandoah & Great Smoky Mtn Ntl. Parks.
- Involve the kids in planning out all trips and adventures. Older children can use the computer to research your destination or sport. (all national parks and most other destinations have websites chock full of facts & info., maps, wildlife).
- Let the kids (especially teens) bring along a friend. Get permission from parents and make it a club adventure.
What about food? What should you pack for a hike with the kids?
- Pack your kids favorite snacks. Desirable food will help encourage your kids to eat and stay energized. Pack more food than you think you will need.
- Try out your food and your stove at home before your trip. Make sure you can cook food the kids will enjoy. When preparing your food, think compact, lightweight, and filling. Bring items that are easy to prepare or ready to eat.
Select foods that just need a little bit of water to prepare. Plan for two pounds of food per person per day. Eliminate bulky packaging; condense food into plastic bags. Pack an extra day’s worth of food.
- Freeze-dried meals
- Foil-wrapped meats such as tuna or chicken
- Dehydrated fruit and veggies
- Sliced apples, grapes, bananas, carrots
- Energy bars or granola bars
- Peanut butter
- Cheese and sausage
- Bagels, crackers, candy bars, nuts,
- Tortilla & cheese sandwiches
- Energy bars for kids (e.g. Cliff’s zbar for kids)
- Oatmeal of dried cereals
And most of all – KEEP IT FUN!!!
To learn more about Jeff, visit his website.