5 tips to motivate a tween when hiking

If you want your hike to be a pleasant experience and your tween to enjoy it as much as you, then it's worth paying attention to a few points. If you want to keep your tween entertained when hiking, discover 8 fun outdoor activities here.


Slowly does it


If your children are more into playstation than walking at the weekend, then don't plan a week-long trek straight away!  Start with 1-2 hour family walks. Get them used to carrying a small backpack with a picnic;  and gradually plan day-long hikes.

Keep your plans as simple as possible (complicated arrangements can be fun as long as you don't have children): identify the route, and potential problem areas (tricky sections, ladders, the need for ropes) and check the actual elevation gain/loss (to avoid any unpleasant surprises).

Check the weather the day before. A few drops of rain shouldn't bother you; however, walking for a full day in the rain, with children, can be very unpleasant; not to mention the fact that trails can become slippery and result in falls.

Check your bags and don't forget food, water and clothing. To find out all there is to know about how to pack his backpack for hiking, click here.


Pique his interest


You view hiking as a revitalising activity that allows you to exercise and switch off from the stress of daily life. Your child won't share your point of view!

Find excuses to get out, always have a defined goal and have a supply of fun activities to stagger throughout the trip (think about geocaching*). Ideally, take friends or organise a trip with a couple of friends who have children the same age.

In short, boredom is your worst enemy, and the "group effect", your ally.


astuces-occuper-enfant-aneHere are two nature-based ideas that have proved effective:


And what if he really doesn't want to leave his phone? Put it to a different use: use it to learn about nature in an alternative way, thanks to some clever apps:


Encourage him to take responsibility


Before the hike, look over the route together and identify points that you want to visit.  

D Day: give him the map and responsibility for guiding the group, and task him with spotting markers along the route. Check where you are regularly so you can plot your progress. Have fun with place names: head for "Cracked Stone," pass through "Fly Hole" etc.

Kit him out with accessories: a pair of binoculars, a compass and a small knife so you can combine the fun and the educational. All this is just an excuse to observe animals, learn to find your bearings and make a water mill.

Remember to read our articles on how to read an ordnance survey map and how to use a map and compass with your child so that he has all the tools he needs to guide the entire family.


Adapt to his pace


There are a thousand and one different ways of hiking and there's no minimum age for starting out. It all depends on your experience and your "feeling" as a parent and hiker. The important thing is that it is still enjoyable for everyone.

From the age of 7, you can plan day long hikes, covering approximately 8-10 km with 600m of elevation gain/loss. At 10 years of age, his capacity will be similar to that of an adult; you can easily take him on a hike with a 1,000 m elevation gain/loss, and even consider spending a night in a refuge (and, for once, suggest a real adventure: a superior sort of pyjama party with family or his friends!).

Note: abilities vary enormously from one child to another, depending on the family's habits and on the child's mood on the day! Remember to review your goals and adapt as you go along, on the day; or give up, even, if it's a case of grim faces all round. The aim isn't to put off your child.

Be alert: unlike adults, children can't pace themselves and will alternate between running and dragging their feet. Be patient and encourage him.

Make sure you also bring enough appetite suppressants and water. Children have fewer reserves than us and need a more frequent supply of calories to avoid energy slumps. Similarly, they're not going to stop playing to have a drink, so remember to offer them water regularly so they stay hydrated.


Prolong the enjoyment


When you get home, it's a chance for the family to relive and share the day's main highlights: take time to look at and discuss the photos that each of you has taken.

Suggest that he creates an Instagram account and share his proudest moments with his friends (#@the summit/ I did it !) ; in short, acknowledge his efforts.




How about you? What are your best tips for a successful hike with your tween?