I know that we are entering into the cooler (or colder?) months, but that doesn’t mean that trail time is over. In fact, when the heat finally lets up is some of my favorite times to get out. No bugs, no heat, no more horribly stinky feet! Ok, maybe feet still don’t get stinky, but at least not quite so bad….
Even when the snow starts flying and the layers start adding up, it’s still possible (and really quite essential) to keep getting out, kids and all. We ALL need time outside and moving.
Psstt – those cute stripes below are, in fact, STRIPES. See my post all about them here!
The trick is that sometimes kids (and you adults…you know who you are!) seem to be less ambitious when they’re uncomfortable. So first task is making sure they ARE dressed appropriately. Post on tips for layering coming next week! And secondly is to provide double the distractions/bribes/carrots-down-the-trail.
We tend to pull out the big guns for snowshoeing and skiing and winter hiking, but these really most of these can be used all year long. The following are our best tips for getting them down the trail….but I want to hear yours too! Please comment below with what YOU do. I love hearing fresh ideas AND it provides more resources for others too. Bloggers – feel free to link up to your relevant posts too!
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- Bring toys. Bear with me – I know you’re thinking something like, “yea…so I can carry it 100 feet down the trail when they get sick of it”. But, truly, think smaller items or shoot/chase toys. If my boys have a bow and arrow or rocket shooter or sling shot or bouncy ball in their hands, they RUN down the trail. The truth of the matter is that you also really have to be prepared for their “ammunition” to get lost (because lost it will get!) and keep a couple extra handy in your pockets. It also provides a great lesson in “leave-no-trace…not even fake arrows” in the woods so they HAVE to find it or, on the other hand, good practice in finding things. Here’s a few we recommend:
- Air Archer Bow: Really recommended for kids aged 6+ as it can be a bit tough to pull back, but it’s loads of fun for the shooters AND the chasers.
- Zing Tek Bow: A little easier for the smaller kids to pull back, but also a bit heavier to carry hiking. And the arrows go REALLY far. I have never seen a kid NOT have fun with this one!
- LED Stomp Rocket: This is the sort of toy that gets thrown in a (kids’) backpack for the hike in and then used as an incentive to get to the end of the trail. The LED lights are great when the lighting is low or in the snow! This is a top toy for our family on the trail AND at home. Kids aged 3+ (or really ambitious 2.5 year olds…see photo below…) can make it go on their own and it gets kids moving. It’s also pretty awesome for learning about gravity, force, trajectory and the Power of Air.
- Super Balls or Gertie Balls: Throw, chase, repeat. And have extras in your pockets….
- Bring Snacks. Trail-ONLY snacks. The stuff that they NEVER get at home, but you feel ok with them having when they’re burning tons of energy. Because a hungry kid is an angry kid and HANGRY kids are zero fun for all. Recently, we have been loving Munk Packs for all members of the family. Munk Packs.
- Bring Books. Yep, more for you to carry, but a fun way to connect literature and the outdoors. Check out this post we just published about books we recommend for fostering a love of the outdoors….and even more fun read outdoors! There’s also tips there on HOW to read outside (because, if you’re like me, you wonder about logistics on these sort of things).
- Whistles. They drive you crazy at home, they keep the bears away on the trail. That and human-voice singing, of course. Bring ear plugs for yourself if you must and let them go to town.
- Bring Backpacks. The rule is in our family that if they bring a backpack, they carry it the whole time (exceptions for toddlers occasionally) and anything they find that they want to bring back has to be able to fit into the backpack. As you’ll see below, some of our kids like to push the limits a bit. Note: Don’t take things out of National Parks. That’s illegal.
And don’t forget about the value of natural items ON the trail (like sticks, rocks, flowers, that bend-in-the-trail). Kids love to imagine and play, if only we let them!
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