Hiking with children

Hiking with children

When you go hiking with children, try and see it through their eyes. Children love walking, but they love it for different reasons. Remember this when you plan a hiking tour, be spontaneous and flexible en route. Children want to take regular breaks and explore the world around them. Choose attractive picnic spots near a stream, with a fireplace, trees and rocks to climb on. Such short breaks interrupt the seemingly endless walk. Even though their energy seems boundless, children need time to relax and recharge their batteries. Tell them stories about the past, fairytales or myths about the area, discover nature’s treasures; it helps children forget the ordeal of walking.

A bath in a mountain lake or stream is certain to be a highlight. Hanging bridges are exciting, the forest or an alpine rock garden will make a wonderful playground, and there is unusual transportation available almost everywhere in Switzerland. Of course, it is always good to ask children for their opinion if you are planning a trip.

There are a lot of fun things you can do with children on a hiking tour:

  • build a cairn (landmarks made ofpiles of stones)
  • build pine cone monsters and little houses
  • play hide-and-seek
  • gather herbs and make «hiking tea»
  • find and classify flowers
  • watch animals (through binoculars), look for animal tracks and find out who they belong to
  • test your senses: smell herbs, feel rocks, walk barefoot, walk in water
  • tell fairytales and invent stories that are set in the area
  • hands-on geography: read the map and use a compass
  • cook and grill your meals over the open fire

Planning your trip

Bear in mind the following advice:

  • When hiking with children, you need to allow at least twice as much time as indicated on the signposts.
  • Don’t leave the marked trails.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Make sure your children drink enough water. Sometimes they don’t realize that they are thirsty.
  • Pack plenty of snacks on top of th emain picnic.

Hiking in the mountains requires particular safety measures. It is vital that your children follow the rules (never leave the picnic area without telling you, walk ahead only as far as the next path turning off). You can let them run ahead in open terrain and on easy paths only. If the path gets tricky or if your child is scared, consider your options and stay calm. Sometimes it is enough to take the child by the hand. You may need to carry it part of the way. Sometimes, turning around is the right solution. When you are planning a hiking tour, look for possible shortcuts (in case the weather turns bad). Always carry a detailed hiking map. An emergency cell phone is helpful too.

Switzerland

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