Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Spring into Action Week 3: Get Walking

Walks and hikes, if planned out properly can be suitable even for families with very young children. Great exercise, great for making the most of national forests and parklands, by following a few simple guidelines from hiking dynamo Jeff Alt, you and your kids will be out and about in no time.
  • Start Early. Even if they can't walk themselves take newborns and small children out on walks and hikes. Check with National Trust or similar for pram and pushchair friendly routes.
  • Let the child lead.This helps you focus on what they’re interested in and keeps you from leaving them in your dust. Encourage them to point out insects,animals, plants and flowers that interest them and pick up safe and removable objects like stones, twigs and leaves to take home, as souvenirs. 
  • Take the kids to local orienteering course and learn how to use GPS & compass together.
  • Involve the kids in planning out all trips and adventures. Older children can use the computer to research your destination or sport.  (all national parks and most other destinations have websites chock full of facts & info., maps, wildlife). Plan ahead – especially when you have younger children.  Choose a trail that offers easy access to domesticated amenities.  Having a base camp or prearranged lodging allows you to be a parent, not a Sherpa.
  • Let the kids (especially teens) bring along a friend. Get permission from parents and make it a club adventure.
  • Research the destination & activity (Have your youngster help you with this-google, park websites, library, bookstore travel section, outfitters, etc.) Make sure you have plenty of pit stops for younger children.
  • Pack your kids favorite snacks.  Desirable food will help encourage your kids to eat and stay energized.  Pack more food than you think you will need.
  • Acquire the Right Gear. Get everyone properly fitted into essential gear particularly boots and packsClothing- Dress in layers (fleece, wool, and waterproof breathable items.  Bring what you need for the weather and conditions you will encounter.
        • Rain Jacket
        • Hat
        • Shirt
        • Socks
        • Shorts/pants
        • Underwear (Particularly if your child is new to potty training)
        • Bug Repellent for hot climates
        • Children’s sunscreen
  • Most importantly, bring plenty of water in re-usable and refillable containers, with knowledge of fill up points along the way.
In addition to walking the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail, Jeff Alt has walked the 218-mile John Muir Trail with his wife, and trekked across a 50-mile path of Ireland with his wife, young daughter, and extended family. He and his wife emerged from the church doors on their wedding day with backpacks. His son was taken on his first hike at 8 weeks. 
    Alt is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). His adventures have been featured in media nationwide including: ESPN, Hallmark Channel, the AP, CNN-Radio, NPR, and more. Alt's award-winning books, A Walk for Sunshine and A Hike for Mike, have been reviewed in Library Journal, Chicago Sun Times and more.

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Photo Credit: James Manisty

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