Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Engage kids in games, activities on the trail

There are quite a number of good reasons to engage kids in games and activities when hiking.

First and foremost is the bonding experience it provides. For some children, especially those who already enjoy a strong relationship with their parent, simply being with mom or dad on a hike may be enough. But often it isn’t; instead, child and parent (or grandparent or guardian) must interact. They forge an unbreakable bond with one another when they share experiences. Games and activities on a hike can be those experiences that children fondly remember years from now – or they may be the ice breaker that provides the child with enough comfort to broach difficult subjects with their elder.

Many games and activities played on the hiking trail can increase a child’s knowledge and understanding of the natural world. From making bark rubbings to identifying animal tracks, from becoming more observant in a scavenger hunt to being the assistant map reader, games and activities geared toward nature and the environment can establish a life-long love for Mother Nature and her wonders. The great outdoors is a whole new, even alien, world for children to discover. Certain games and activities on a hike can prod them toward exploring it.

On a broader scope, many hiking games and activities can develop a child’s general cognitive, physical and creative skills. Solving word puzzles and geocaching, walking like an animal and rock climbing, drawing and journaling, all can develop a child’s abilities and talents in fun ways and in an unique environment. Many children won’t even realize they’re learning.

Ultimately, games and activities can keep kids from getting bored. Some children just won’t appreciate the beauty of the trail (at least not at first) or will argue that the walk is too long (usually they realize this just as you’re about to reach the destination). A competition or singing of songs will take their mind off their boredom or tired legs. This can help maintain an adult’s sanity, as he then doesn’t have to put up with parent-nag (You know, when kids says, “I’m hungry”, “Or we almost there?”, “I have to go to the bathroom.”). In the long run, games and activities on the trail not only can make the hike more enjoyable but can even cause children to want to go on more hikes.

On this blog and in Hikes with Tykes you’ll find a number of games and activities geared for hiking children. To find them at this blog, simply type “activities” into the search engine at the upper left. Find a couple that you think your children will enjoy and give them a try!

Learn about more than a hundred other hiking diversions for kids in Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities.