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Playground Equipment Blog
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

5 Reasons to Hike With Your Kids This Summer

"Nature always wears the color of the spirit." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This summer, take a break from the air conditioning and get back into nature because it turns out, hiking provides countless benefits for children and adults, offering families a fabulous way to connect. Read on to find five reasons to hike with your kids this week.

1. Practice good environmental stewardship.

When kids hike through a national park or forest, they’re able to connect with nature and understand the importance of protecting the planet’s natural beauty, aka “leaving no trace.”

Snacktime presents a great “teachable moment” to talk about the amount of waste we accumulate. Therefore, illustrate the importance of collecting your own trash and wrappers to throw away later by saving and storing any granola bar wrappers.

Or, better yet, go zero-waste on your hike and bring package-free snacks like nuts and dried fruit in a mason jar. You’ll be demonstrating the concepts of “reduce and reuse.”

And if you’re feeling really green, bring along a small trash bag to pick up any bottles and fast food containers you may see. Trash collecting, though not the most glamorous pastime, acts as a fun scavenger hunt for kids of all ages and teaches them about good environmental stewardship.

2. Get some exercise.

It’s important that kids start healthy exercise habits early. Some studies even suggest that exercising outside may be better for your health – and that’s true for both adults and children. A hike outside provides excellent cardiovascular exercise. Plus, outside, kids can explore a new landscape, traverse trees’ root systems, duck spider webs and hanging limbs, and balance on exciting rockscapes. Kids will hone their balance skills, increase agility, and gain confidence in their ability to navigate new terrain.

3. Connect with nature and appreciate wildlife.

Hiking provides ample educational opportunities for kids to discover new flowers, animals, and insects – even in urban parks. And if your local hiking trail is close to a body of water, you’ll likely encounter fish, ducks, frogs, and other pond life. Connecting with plants and animals fills children with a sense of wonder for the rich bio-diversity that life has to offer.

4. Spend some unplugged quality time together.

It’s essential that your family periodically takes a break from social media/screen time to reconnect with nature and each other. So, turn the phones off (or put them on airplane mode) and stash them in your bag as you traverse a new landscape.

In our increasingly digital world, unplugging helps foster a sense of mindfulness and ground us in the present moment. In fact, in a study conducted by the University of Maryland, students unplugged from technology reported an improved quality of life and spent more time with friends and family, got more exercise, and even ate healthier foods. Regularly unplugging gets kids in the habit of finding alternative ways to spend their time, many of which are much healthier than wasting time on social media or binging Netflix all evening.

5. Save money and re-focus on the essential things.

Most natural hiking spots are either free or cost very little. And the only tools you’ll need are some proper hiking boots or tennis shoes, sunscreen, breathable clothing, and water. As the old adage goes, “the best things in life are free.” And nothing is more fundamental to our well being than getting back into nature and connecting to the beauty all around us.

Our Hiking Tips:

  • Make sure to bring plenty of water. A backpack makes a great catch-all for water bottles, snacks, sunscreen, band-aids, and extra socks.
  • Bring a phone in case of emergencies, but keep it zipped away in your backpack. That way, it’s available if you need it, but you won’t be tempted to check Instagram.
  • If your kids burn easily, consider wearing baseball caps or bonnets to keep the sun off of their faces.
  • Teach your kids about the buddy system. It’s crucial for them to stay with a partner at all times, especially around bodies of water.

Do you have any hiking tips or stories? Sound off in the comments.

Written by: Parker Jones

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