Hiking is a wonderful way to connect with nature and get some exercise, but it can be a challenge to keep kids engaged and interested in the experience. Whether you’re hiking with young children or teens, it’s important to have some activities and strategies in mind to keep everyone motivated and excited about the journey. Here are some tips and ideas for keeping kids engaged while hiking, with specific activities for both young kids and teenagers.
Activities for Young Kids
Young children can quickly lose interest in hiking if they don’t have anything to occupy their minds and bodies. Here are some activities to consider:
- Nature scavenger hunt: Before you hit the trail, make a list of things your child can search for along the way, such as pine cones, rocks of different shapes and colors, or different types of leaves. As they find each item, check it off the list together.
- Animal spotting: Encourage your child to look out for animals along the trail. Bring a guidebook or use a smartphone app to help identify birds, insects, and other creatures you encounter.
- Storytelling: Use the hike as an opportunity to tell stories or create an imaginary adventure together. For example, you could pretend you’re explorers on a quest to find a hidden treasure, and describe the challenges you face along the way.
- Breaks for play: Young children need frequent breaks to rest and play. Bring a small ball or frisbee to toss around, or stop for a quick game of tag or hide-and-seek.
Activities for Teens
Teenagers may be less interested in playing games or going on scavenger hunts, but there are still plenty of ways to keep them engaged while hiking. Here are some ideas:
- Photography challenge: Encourage your teen to take photos of interesting sights along the trail, such as unique rock formations or beautiful views. You can even turn it into a competition to see who can take the best photo.
- Geocaching: Geocaching is a fun activity that involves using GPS coordinates to find hidden treasures. There are many geocaches hidden along hiking trails, and your teen can use a smartphone app to search for them.
- Trail journaling: Encourage your teen to bring a notebook or sketchbook to document their thoughts and observations during the hike. You can also bring a field guide to help identify plants and animals, and make notes about what you see.
- Botanists Abound: Use a plant identification app to find and research the plants you find along the way. Make a game of it and see who can find and identify the most species.
Hiking is a wonderful way to spend time with your family and connect with nature, but by incorporating some fun ideas you may keep kids engaged and interested in the experience longer. Whether you’re searching for hidden treasures or simply taking in the beauty of the natural world, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on a hike. Let us know what your favorite hiking activities are!