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Try these 3 games next time you hit the trail as a family

  • May 15, 2016

Heading out on a hiking or camping trip with your loved ones is a fantastic way to spend a weekend or day off. You and your family can explore nature, get some fresh air and exercise, as well as make a memory or two along the way.

Some longer treks may be a bit more difficult for younger children to enjoy. Despite their natural curiosity about plants and animals, they may become restless or tired during a hiking trip. To keep your little ones entertained and to try something new out on the trail, check out these fun games.

1. A classic nature scavenger hunt
An oldie but a goodie, every kid loves a scavenger hunt. Before heading out on your trip, write down ten items for your children to find or identify. They can work as a team or compete against one another. If you've been on this particular trail before, get creative about what they may encounter. This could be as specific as finding a few pinecones or identifying specific birds, but if you're feeling ambitious, consider cooking up some riddles or longer instructions.

For example, you may decide to bring the Pro Trek PRW3000-2B watch with built-in compass and give your children a map to follow. Just be sure to consider any potential hazards or dangerous animals and plan accordingly.

The Washington Trails Associated reported that one easy variation on this game is to simply look for items in alphabetical order. Have one child find an item that begins with "A" and work your way through the alphabet. This is perfect because it requires no preparation ahead of time.

2. The camouflage game
This game has a few names, but the Appalachian Trail Conservancy reported that it is still among the easiest and best games to play on a family hiking trip. No materials are needed, and children of all ages will enjoy this one for sure.

The point of the game is to practice camouflage just like a wild animal. Pick a spot on the trail or in the woods that has enough space to run around. Designate someone to be "it" and have that person cover their eyes and count backwards from 20 out loud.

While this person is counting, have everyone else find a way to camouflage themselves. This may mean hiding under some leaves, in a bush or even simply behind a tree. When the "it" person is done counting, anyone that can be spotted is outed. Repeat the counting process, and have everyone else try to sneak closer to whoever is "it."

Be sure to look out for things like poison ivy, but use this game as a way to talk about the importance of camouflage for wild animals.

3. A nature regatta
Young people love to explore by touching objects, and creating boats out of natural materials is sure to delight any children you bring on your next hiking trip. Start by collecting dead sticks or other materials that won't be deleterious to the forest. It's important to stress to your children that leaving things as undisturbed as possible is an essential part of any outdoor excursion. Likewise, avoid using man-made materials that may accidently get left behind.

Once you've collected your supplies, have your children begin to craft small boats. They may need support in putting everything together, but let them lead the way in terms of design. Once everything is assembled, be sure to have your children name their little vessels.

Find a small creek or stream and have yourself an official forest regatta. Be sure to add your own colorful commentary and consider giving out prizes.