For your hike to be successful and for your preteens to have as much fun as you do, it is worth paying attention to a few points. And if you want to keep them busy with fun activities, read our article with 8 activity ideas and fact sheets to take home with you here!
GO STEP BY STEP
If your kids are more into PlayStation than weekend hiking, don’t plan a week of trekking right away! Start with family walks from 1h to 2h. Get them used to carry a small backpack with their picnic, and gradually consider day hikes.
Prepare a minimum of preparation for your outing (the difficult plans are fun as long as you don’t have children): find the route, and any points of difficulty (rough passages, ladders, need to rope up) and check the actual difference in altitude (to avoid unpleasant surprises).
Check the weather forecast the day before. Although a few drops of rain should not slow you down, walking all day long in the rain with children can be very unpleasant; besides the fact that the paths can become slippery and cause falls.
Check the bags and don’t neglect food, water, and clothing. More information on how to pack your best backpacks for hiking soon!
GET HER INTERESTED
You see hiking as a resourcing activity, in which you will be able to exercise and disconnect from daily stress. Your child doesn’t have the same point of view!
Find excuses to go out, always set a goal and have fun activities in reserve to enjoy along the way (think about geocaching). Ideally, take friends along or organize the outing with a couple of friends with children of the same age.
In short, your worst enemy will be boredom and the group effect will be your ally.
Here are two 100% natural ideas that have proven their worth:
Hiking with donkeys (fun and practical to lighten your back)
Make recreational and playful stops. You can find ideas in our article “8 activities to keep your tweenager busy on a hike”.
MAKE HIM ACCOUNTABLE
Before the hike, plan the route together and identify the points you wish to visit.
On the day: entrust him with the map and the responsibility of guiding the group, ask him to find all the signposts on the route. Look regularly where you are in order to show your progress.
Equip it with accessories: a pair of binoculars, a compass, a small knife, to play both fun and educational. It will be a pretext to observe the animals, to learn how to orientate yourself, to make a water mill.
Don’t hesitate to read with your child our articles on how to read an IGN map and how to use a compass so that he has all the keys in hand to guide the whole family.
ADAPT TO HIS RHYTHM
There is no minimum age to start hiking and there are a thousand and one ways to do it. It all depends on your experience and your “feeling” as a parent and hiker. The important thing is that it is fun for everyone.
From 7 years old it is possible to consider day hikes, which is about 8-10Km and 600m of difference in altitude. At 10 years old, his abilities are close to those of an adult, you can easily take him on a 1000m hike, or even consider a star hike and spend a night at your base camp (and for the moment offer him a real adventure, a kind of improved pyjama party, with his family or with his friends!)
Be careful: unlike an adult, a child will not “manage” his pace, he may alternate phases where he runs and phases where he drags his feet. Be patient and motivate him.
Also make sure you take enough food and water with you. Children have fewer reserves than we do and need more frequent energy intakes to avoid tiredness. Also, they won’t stop playing to drink, so don’t hesitate to offer them water regularly to keep them hydrated.
Beware, abilities vary enormously from one child to another, depending on the family’s habits and also on the mood of the day! So don’t hesitate to review your ambitions and adapt “live” on the day, or even give up if it’s a bit of a challenge. The aim is not to disgust your child.
PROLONG THE PLEASURE
Back home, it’s an opportunity to relive and share the highlights of the day with your family: take the time to look at and comment on the photos that everyone has taken.