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Hit the road, take a hike!



Summer In New York State can be fun with a carload of kids

hiking, family, learning, nature, kids

So, you’re going to stay in New York State this summer. How about a road trip? Maybe a bit of hiking? How to keep the kids happy with limited activities that aren’t theme parks or digital?

St. Louis Today has handled the first subject well with a number of tips for avoiding back seat squabbles. Among their tips:

Factor in naptimes for babies and toddlers, tied to eating times and guaranteed to stop meltdowns in their tracks.

Let each of your grade school age children pack their own road trip survival backpacks filled with their favorite car-friendly snacks, crafting gear and tech gadgets. Make sure items are fully charged and bring along extra batteries. Think about bringing a new book or snack they haven’t seen before to keep things interesting when their interest begins to wane.

For teens and tweens: give them a say in decisions. Let them choose the car’s musical playlist for one hour or use an app to geo-locate a restaurant for lunch. Allow them time in their own headphone-protected bubbles.

For everyone in the vehicle: make sure you have a first aid kit handy and have extra bottled water in the trunk. Most importantly (besides seat belts) is to keep one’s sense of curiosity and humor intact. Always.

As for hiking with same family, Summit Daily’s Sarah Watson (of Colorado) had a host of suggestions,

  • Start with shorter hikes
  • Know routes beforehand
  • Clearly communicate expectations for the trek, and each hiker, beforehand

Games can make a hike go faster.
  • Attempt to pin a clothespin to another student’s clothes without them noticing. As the group hikes, each person must look out for the clothespin until everyone has been tagged.
  • Try scavenger hunts. With a list of items for everyone to find like a certain color leaf, pine cone, rock or stick.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles by returning their items to the location they found them.

For younger children, parents can bring a special treat on their walks, such as a candy bar or snack, and hide it near the end of the hike or along the path. And hide and seek works well, within reason.

Make hiking entertaining and educational for children

  • Parents can bring nature and wildlife guidebooks with them on the trail and help their children identify specific plants and animals as they hike. Not only does this teach children about different species, but it encourages kids to be analytical about the natural environment around them.
  • The natural environment also can be a way to encourage children to be artistic. Kids can use natural items to create art and then return objects to their original locations.
  • Parents can bring clipboards, paper and pencils for their children to have some quiet time drawing views, wildlife or flowers and plants they observe during their hike.
Watson points out that studies have shown that physical activity during childhood can lead to more active lifestyles in adulthood. By helping children engage with nature, parents are able to pass on healthy practices, a sense of adventure and outdoor hobbies.

It also makes a long summer go faster. And what a great state for hiking we all live in!




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