Credit: Laura Castro, Hike it Baby
Go the distance — outdoors
There’s nothing wrong with a little mud and water, and there is no age limit on jumping in puddles. Hike It Baby contributor Samantha Reddy reminds us that jumping in puddles is one of the few activities through which we can really let kids loose to “misbehave.” In addition to the feeling of freedom puddle play gives, the little bit of dirt encountered is good for the immune system.
Hike It Baby offers a great way to organize nature walks in parent- and kid-friendly spaces near you. You can also try more advanced outdoor activities, such as kayaking and snowshoeing, through The Mountaineers, which offers summer camps and after-school programs for kids ages 2–16. (Currently, its programs are operating in a modified format in alignment with COVID-19 health and safety protocols.)
Another outdoor activity popular with kids is geocaching — it’s like going on a real-life treasure hunt. Get started by checking out our geocaching 101 guide. Parents also may want to visit the Children and Nature Network, which offers a large library of health and nature information and related toolkits for families.
If you’d prefer to take the family on a DIY adventure, here are some tips to help make it a success. And even if you’re planning to take a short hike, it’s always best to be prepared for a longer trek — which includes wearing the right clothing.
- Go the (right) distance. On average, kids can hike a half-mile per year of age. If your hike is longer than this distance, be prepared to carry or cart your child part of the way.
- Pack more than a first aid kit. Pack your own supplies and know how to use them. Provide each child with a small bag containing emergency supplies, on the rare chance you become separated. As with all hikes, you’ll want to bring along the 10 Essentials.
- Bring water. The rule of thumb is 4 cups of water per adult per hour and 1–2 cups per child over the same period of time. Bring enough food for both snacks and emergencies.
- Plan your trip. Study area trail maps and check social media for updates on current conditions. Check weather reports and plan for possible sudden changes in conditions.
Remember that your outdoor adventure isn’t an all-or-nothing gamble — establish a reasonable goal and set a comfortable pace for all hikers.