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Kids and Hiking: What One Mom Learned That Works for Her

What does it take to persuade your child to complete a hike? In a New York Times article published this past weekend, a mother explains how she discovered the power of jelly beans (and other incentives) that succeeded, more or less, at keeping her young son's feet moving down a trail.

Young NewtonAs I learned when interviewing more than 2 dozen REI colleagues for the REI Expert Advice article Kids and Hiking, treats (a euphemism for "bribes," if we're transpartent about it) are a common and usually successful tactic for persuading kids to keep shuffling forward along a pathway.

A few other tips for getting kids jazzed about exploring trails:

• Include a memorable destination in a hike: a lake, waterfall or patch of wild berries.
• When possible, let kids set the pace and give them time to study things they find interesting, even if you would prefer a quicker pace.
• Bring snacks and reward kids when they reach a particular destination along the route.

Read the entire article and learn what has worked for other parents. In addition, check out REI's entire library of articles that feature Expert Advice for Families, including Backpacking with Kids, Camping with Kids, Cycling with Kids and more. A popular post we featured yesterday put the spotlight on first-time geocaching with a family. No question, there are lots of ways to help kids equate healthy outdoor activity with the notion of fun.

How about you? What advice and techniques can you share for turning kids into enthusiastic hikers and outdoor enthusiasts?


Posted on at 1:47 PM

Tagged: Hiking, Hiking with kids, backpacking, backpacking with kids, camping, camping with kids, family, kids and parents

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Oftentimes when we're hiking, we play a game where one of us thinks of an animal that starts with the letter __. The others continue guessing and sometimes ask for clues to help us get the answer. This keeps our younger daughter sufficiently occupied enough for a good stretch of the hike.
Another trick is our "magic words" that we recite as we're hiking along. Our daughters will chant something like "ice cream" or "camping" or something they look forward to following the hike. It creates a rhythm and keeps us moving.
We need all the tricks we can find for our younger daughter, now 8, who only hikes to spend time with the rest of us (that, and she has no other choice). ; )

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