I'm new here and have really started to get into hiking recently. I spend a lot of time outdoors but usually stick to single-day or weekend activities. Now that I want to do more hiking, I'd like to find out how other folks make the time to take worth while trips. I'm sure it takes planning but how long do you go out and how often do you get to go? Ideally, I'd like to at least take my 3 oldest kids (7,9,12 years old); my youngest are 3 yrs and 6 mos. old and it gets difficult.
I take my twin boys, now 9, on holidays -- spring break and Thanksgiving week. We usually go for a 3-4 day backpack; more than that and they can get bored. I pick easier hikes for them, with low elevation gain/loss (I was once told all trips should be downhill in the future). We car camp a bit at other times of the year.
I am a firm believer in one adult per child, if they are under 12 yrs old and 2 adults minimum. It is just as much for your sanity as thier safety. The big reason for 2 adults is that if you get hurt, the kids are not out there alone. If you cannot get a competent friend or relative to go with you consider hiring a responsible teen babysitter who has had some outdoor experience. By 12 years old, with training and experience, most kids can be quite competent and understand emergency procedures and not get too freaked out if something happened to you. Each child is different so these ages are just approximate. When I worked for NOLS, our junior courses were for 13-15 year olds and at the end of the course, with training, most were actually capable being very safe and survival savy.
Another savior for a bunch of kids is a horse-packer! When my kids were that awkard age (too large to carry on my back and too small to get anywhere on their own) I would hire a packer to take us into a drop-camp. We would then day hike from a base camp.
You may also consider taking one at a time until each is trained with one-on-one instruction. It is nice not to have all the kids be first-time backpackers.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Wandering Daisy, I really think you're right. I will go with two grandkids, but when the youngest (now 3) is olde enough to come along, I will insist that one or the other of the parents be with us. There's no way I'll be able to keep track of three of them at once!
It did help, from a supervision point of view, that the two grandkids were both hanging over me while I prepared meals. However, from a cook's point of view, the close "supervision" was a bit annoying....
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Just this year I have begun taking my 3 year old twins and my 13 year old on *hikes*. I have found that firm ground rules make all the difference. There is only one of me, and three of them, and if we are not all on the same page, it can be a disaster. By firm, I mean that I only give one warning, then we leave. We don't go on all day hikes yet, but we have gone on 5 hour hikes(round trip) and at first, when they would start testing the limits, we would turn around, and go strait home. 10 minutes in, or two hours in. Another firm rule is no running, and *sit*. I have taught them that sometimes if I need to get my bearings, or snap a picture, the best thing for them to do is sit down, that way I am not having to worry about someone going over a cliff, or dissapearing into the pines(my little ones are very little, and too quiet sometimes) Everyone carries their own small pack with a whistle, water, jerky and a light fleece blanket. (lol of course, with my daughter, I often end up carring it back). My oldest walks behind the twins, and I am in frount. He knows not to let anyone behind him, and that who ever is directly ahead of him, he helps them with steep paths, or narrow ledges. I expect that I will be carrying someone on the way back. If I find that I am dealing with alot of whining, or two babies who want to be carried, we stop and take a rest, and have a snack. Maybe check out the bugs, or cool rocks, or an old rotted tree. The biggest issue I have had this summer is pacing. They are too young to know how to do that, so its a little bit of a struggle to get them to slow down, or we risk burning all our energy in the first two miles(makes for an unpleasant walk back to the car) We try to pick hikes that end somewhere interesting; a stream with easy access, a large meadow, an open area under the pines. All in all, I am thrilled they love it, and tolerate it well. It keeps us all active and entertained during the armer months. Next year, I am hoping we can try something overnight(we do camp alot, but not a pack in situation) Best of luck, these are the very best years! (and this activity makes for some killer naptime in the afternoon;) )
Put your son's in the scouts,(really wish the girl scouts were more into out door camping,survival.) It builds skills needed for hiking and camping. How to handle accidents and even plan for them. Most young children 12 and up need to know first aid,how to use it,when to use it with a level head. I see some parents don't give their children credit for the ability to handle tough situations. No I don't expect a 12 year old to perform CPR for an hour on an adult or to be able to pull an adult out of the wilderness if injured but should be taught to recognize these events and be able to decide how best to handle it. No they can not think nor physically react the same as an adult but with training from those same adults they will. I have had some of our scouts 13,14,15 realize my our limits when I didn't, you know those times when you are trying to show off and over do it, hiking up hill I have been asked to stop and take a water break because I didn't look or sound right to them which I was but on the verge of dehydration.These kids I'd trust my life to and have on many campouts,hikes and canoe trips.
Train them,train them, the best way is to get out there with them, thumbs up to those that do and shame on those that don't.If your able put them into one of the many NOLS programs,those are great and I wish I had known about them years ago..
Just my rant and raves..
Tim R Asst. scoutmaster LNT trainer Ke4uzi ham radio beekeeper father of 3
When I take my four kids with my wife, we only go day hiking. I usually end up carrying two kids. I have a backpack carrier for the 2 year old, and the 3 yr old sits on my shoulders. I never knew day hiking could be so heavy. If I go backpacking, I only take one kid with me (normally my 6 year old son, his older sister usually doesn't want to). Can you imagine how much stuff I would have to take with four kids and two adults? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
For a 1st time out backpacking, find a destination about (or a lil' less than their normal dayhike range) and do a simple overnight to start off.
What are you referring to by "weekend activities"? Are you camping and dayhiking?
I have a much younger brood (8, 4, 2), but we are starting off with finding State Parks (NPs, NFs too) camping and dayhiking around. I recently took the 2 older girls on an overnight and everything went fine.
Just start small/short trips and expand from there as you and your family gain confidence and skill in being in the wild.
my 5 year old and 7 year old enjoy feeling like they are pioneers. they wear backpacks with sleeping bags in them and off we go to some backwoods camping. my back is of course very heavy. they have twice done moderate trails for about 2 miles to fire ring only campsites. they love it. despite being tired, once camp is set they want to go explore.
Loc: Hervey Bay, QLD Australia
I started taking my boys (twins - now 10) on long day hikes when they were barely 3. We would walk for an hour or so and then have a snack. Then, walk a while longer and maybe they would take a nap (on the fleeces that I carried for them). And so on. We covered a lot of ground and they loved getting far out into the woods. By the time they turned 5 they were quite the little hikers and we started going on overnights (with me carrying the gear). At 6 they started carrying small backpacks and now that they are 10 they carry their own gear and a little bit of the group gear. And they're two of the strongest backpackers I know. We have been places together that most of my adult friends would not attempt. We always kept/keep a positive attitude while we backpack along so they've never hiked with anyone that complained of how hard it was or how long it took. Consequently, the boys have positive can do attitudes, really love to backpack, and are a joy to hike with. And we're jusyt getting started. May your experiences be as wonderful as mine have been/are.
i really don't think that applies to me.