An outdoors trip with the family can be loads of fun, but competing with their console of choice or movie marathon isn’t always easy. Here you’ll find a bunch of ways to get the kids outside and help them to enjoy it as well. Every kid is different and none of these are guaranteed but they might help both you and your kid be more prepared and excited for a trip through the bush.
The most important part of any bush trip is to make sure you are organised. It’s going to be hard to convince the young ones to join you outside if you don’t have a rough idea of where you’re going or what your team might need. Make a list, check it twice, get your gear prepared and work out where you want to go. One of the biggest things is making sure that you can complete the adventure ahead. Don’t get psyched up for a 10km hike if you’ve got small children who think walking to the local shops is too far.
Start of with something easy. If you want to go camping, go for a drive and then walk the last kilometre. There’s still a sense of adventure and the kids won’t be completely exhausted when they arrive. Just start off slow, no walks out to Woop Woop on day one. And if the plan is for a multi day hike or camping trip be realistic with your expectations of how much they can (or will want to) contribute.
One way to get them more excited is to give them their own gear. A small backpack with a torch or some smaller essential items will make them feel like an important part of the team. Kids are more likely to be upbeat when they feel like an essential part. You can also give them a simple task to do. Help nail in the tent pegs, look out for a river and other water sources, little jobs that can be a big help. This will also free up your attention for other things that are happening on the walk. While you focus on keeping an eye on the kids, they can tell you if there’s an obvious hazard ahead.
Just make sure it’s not a job. It’s not meant to be difficult and frustrating, it’s just a fun trip outdoors! Don’t make it about fitness and exercise, I know when I was a kid that would just make me want to stay indoors more. If it starts to look like a job keep them focused on moving forward, maybe you brought their favourite board game to play in the tent once you’ve got it set up, or a football to have a bit of a kick when you get there. If you’re going towards a lake remind them of the swim they might be able take once you arrive. It’s about the experience, not dragging it out.
Perhaps most importantly you need to be prepared to carry. Regardless of the size of your family the adults are going to be carrying the most gear. If one of the kids gets tired you might end up carrying them too. What you need to do is be prepared to carry almost all of it for just in case. Appropriate backpacks will help but so will an extra pair of hands.
No one said it had to just be you and your kids, you can invite other families and friends too. This turns your hiking trip from “time outside with mum and dad” into “adventure with friends” much easier than you’d expect. It also means you’ve got someone to talk to if the kids want to run around while you prepare dinner. Even if you don’t talk much it means that if something goes wrong (fingers crossed it won’t) you’ve got some backup.
Even with backup it’s always good to have a guide for the kids on what to do if something does go wrong. What do they do if they get lost? What do they do if it’s dark? What if they call out and no one responds? If they get hungry or thirsty? It’s easy to brush this off but making sure that you and your child know the basic steps each other will take in these scenarios is super important, for peace of mind as well as safety. Maybe they’ll think the risk of danger makes the trip more exciting.
The most important part though, is to make it fun. Make it entertaining. Like we already said, every kid is different, and they’re yours so you know best how to get them hyped up, but this should help if you needed a few pointers. If you think you need anything to get your camping or hiking trip up and running feel free to check out our hiking and camping categories, as well as our bags range for a few extra pockets.