Raising your kids on the trail

A child will learn far quicker with the use of his/her own hands & mind. Our animal instincts prove outward & intuition takes over them, they will learn independence, sufficiency & patience. This entry touches on some helpful tips & things to consider while taking your kids hiking or backpacking in the wilderness.

Snacks & plenty of water, rewards are always nice to receive once a certain accomplishment has been fulfilled. I always make sure to pack a snack for every mile we are planning to hike (1 mile = 1 snack, 4 miles = 4 snacks...you get it). This will keep them motivated & excited on the trail & will make the complaints either to a minimum or discontinued altogether. Snacks should probably have minimal waste (always throw trash in nearby bins or keep in pack until you return to the trailhead to discard) & ideally on the healthy side to keep up energy & moral. The night before the hike, you can make bags of assorted snacks to make into a trailmix of their choice. That way they will feel a contribution was made on their part for the food they eat. Water, well is essential to any physical activity, proper hydration is especially important in the wilderness hiking.

If the trail isn't one to take much caution to, allow them to lead the pack. It basically serves as the line leader method they get at school, it can increase their involvement & excitement within the hike. When you let them "take the wheel" of the direction the hike is going, they will remember that moment with pride (This doesn't apply to all hikes/trails).

Allow them to contribute, whether that be the fire wood kindling they gather around camp, setting up the tent or the way their rucksack is packed the night before at home. The more input & thought they give & absorb will reflect the memories on the mountains & trails. If you show them the ways of mother nature & how it all works (ecosystems & plant life), the memories will be forever solidified into their young growing souls & can carve them into better appreciative younglings. It's an honorable obligation to teach our kids the importance of wilderness & ways to preserve it, for the next generations to come.

All images shot with Kodak Portra 160 film