You love hiking so much that you want to spread that love to the children in your life. They could be your own kids, a dear friend’s, or your nieces and nephews. Whatever the relationship is that you have with them, we understand you want to teach them well. Here are some ways to instill hiking in the next generation.
1. Display hiking photos in your house
We’re not saying you should force a love for hiking on your children. (Really, why would we want to do such a thing…) But seriously, if they walk out of their room every day to photos reminding them of the joys of this sport, then they will be more inclined to love it. You can let them pick out photos they like from your family’s last trek, or have them create their own photo album that they can decorate.
2. Tell your favorite hiking stories on a weekly basis
Bedtime stories don’t always need to come out of a children’s book. When you tuck the kids into bed at night, ask them if they want to hear your favorite or funniest trail moments. It won’t take long before they have one they want to hear every single time you put them to sleep.
3. Instead of material presents, have kids choose a new hiking spot for their birthday
This is something you’ll have to lay the foundation out for early on. Kids can easily get used to receiving physical objects, like toys or video games, for their special occasions. But, you can show them from the beginning that the best birthdays or holidays are the ones they can remember. Give them a few choices, and see what they pick. If you’d like, add in a new gear item as a present, like a water bottle or a cool hat. It’ll be fun for them, and easy for you.
4. Sign your kid up for an outdoor club or event they can do at least once a week
It doesn’t have to be Boy Scouts or Brownies. There are so many ways to get your kid involved in the outdoors frequently. Check out your local outdoor store, The Boys and Girls Club, or a community center to see what they have going on for children. If it becomes part of their routine, they will start to look forward to it each and every time.
5. Take away the electronics after a certain time
We’re not saying you have to be that parent or guardian who never lets their kid play on a tablet or watch TV. But, we are saying that you should set boundaries, and encourage kids to play outside instead of on an electronic device. We’re not talking about Pokemon Go, either. We’re also not saying your kid should wander off into the wilderness. But, there are many ways for them to have fun outside while staying safe.
6. Don’t go to the toy store, go to the gear store or bookstore
Instill hiking in your kids by teaching them to be excited about passing REI or Dick’s, not Toys R’ Us. One is because you totally wouldn’t mind pulling over to shop around the outdoor store yourself. Two is you’d probably rather spend money on some hiking boots for your kid than a toy they’ll hardly ever use. Additionally, the bookstore or library is a good place to get your kid motivated about reading hiking stories or delving into cool survival guides.
7. Teach them how to use a compass or how to make a campfire
Kids learn by example. The next time you’re out on the trail, let your kid watch you make a campfire, and talk them through the steps as you go. Teach them how to use a compass or a GPS, how to cook an outdoor meal, or how to filter water. Most of the time, kids love to ask questions. Let them ask.
8. Let family time be on the trail, not in front of the TV
The weekend is coming and you want to plan something. Or, dinner finished early and the kids don’t have any homework. Young kids are generally very excited about Mom and Dad having a new idea. Surprise the kids, tell them, “Hey guys, we’re going on a hike tonight!” and leave the TV alone. We can guarantee they’ll love the idea just as much as you!
9. Get your kid involved in preparing for a camping trip
Got a big camping trip coming up? This is a great way to instill not only a love of hiking in your children but the responsibility that comes with it. Have your kids help you grab the tent from the garage, cook and pack hiking meals, make checklists, etc. Assign each child different jobs once you arrive at the campsite, too.
You’ve always loved hiking, but you know you spent more time outside as a kid then your kids do now. You’re worried they won’t appreciate the love of the outdoors as much as you do. But, don’t give up! Try these methods and watch your kid fall in love with hiking!