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Kids In The Outdoors - OutdoorPlaces.Com
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 Introduction To Kid's In The Outdoors

kidsAny parent who has traveled any distance with their children has gone through the special joy that only traveling with your family can bring.  Although there are the negatives of getting to your destination, "are we there yet," or, "I have to go to the bathroom," and then there is always, "you child has been kicking my seat since take-off, can you please make them stop!"

But arriving at your outdoor destination opens up a world of new wonderment to a child.  With some careful planning, patience, and understanding, a trip to the outdoors can be made a wonderful experience filled with life long memories, versus a death march that will scar a child for life into never visiting the outdoors again.

 How Far In One Day?

In planning an outdoor adventure, this is usually the first question a parent asks to themselves.  How far can my child go in one day?  This article can not provide you a mystical number, but some common sense can.  The average adult in average health can travel on foot from eight to twelve miles on any given day.  Terrain, weather, load, and motivation are all factors that can effect how much ground can be covered.

When traversing ground of foot with children, you should not expect them to move more than five miles in a day.  You should equip your child with good footwear, proper wool socks with Wick Dry or Cool Max weaved in or liner socks.  Cotton socks retain moisture which make for uncomfortable feet and blisters, as does cheap, "department store," footwear.  The best rule of thumb is the, "whine factor."  If your child is complaining a lot and looks distressed, they probably are.  Another good gauge is your own body.  Are you feel tired or sore?  If you are, your children probably started fading a long time ago and may just be suffering in silence.

You can increase the distance a child can cover by preparing an interesting route with frequent stops.  Hiking through five miles of woods might be a good time for quiet reflection as an adult, but to a ten-year-old mind it is hell on earth.  Stopping at formations, waterfalls, rivers, little known historic sites, ghost towns, etc. all break up the trip, and make it more exciting for the grownups.  Another good approach is to setup camp early and do some short distance solo hiking to clear your personal mind and move at a pace your more comfortable with.

How Much Can They Carry?

Unlike distance, this is an easier question to answer.  For every five pounds of person, it is acceptable to expect them to be able to carry one pound of gear comfortably.  Some factors like the quality of their boots and pack, and physical condition weigh (no pun intended) into this equation.

For every five pounds of body weight, the average child can carry five pounds.  In the below example your child could carry 16 lbs.

80 lbs. / 5 = 16 lbs. gear

If a child is overweight you need to factor for this.  For every five pounds overweight, you need to subtract one pound.  So if your child had an ideal weight of 80 lbs., but weighed 100 lbs. you would use the example below:

(ideal weight / 5) - (actual weight - ideal weight /5)

(80 lbs. / 5) - (100 - 80 / 5) = 12 lbs. gear

There are two examples to the left that outline this formula.  If your child is overweight (this is a major problem in the United States) you need to factor this equation for the excess body weight the child has to carry in addition to the gear.  In the example to the left, a child that should weight 80 lbs., but weighs 100 lbs., can only carry 12 lbs. of gear comfortably.  Now this may seem like ample weight on paper, until you realize that one gallon of water weighs close to nine pounds (including the container to hold it).  The bottom line is that especially in younger children, you should not have major expectations on them carrying a lot of gear.  If you can get them to carry the twelve basic essentials for hiking, you probably should not expect them to carry more.

The quality of the pack is also important.  If your child is under five feet tall, you will probably have a very hard time finding a pack that fits them properly.  If you plan to get a day hiking type pack, you should try to get one with a sternum strap.  The sternum strap on higher quality packs helps keep the shoulder straps on the shoulders, and with young children who have not gone through puberty, this is a major issue as their shoulders have not gotten broad and the packs tend to slip on the shoulders causing a lot of stress.  A good day hiking pack that does not have a frame, will cost between $45 and $150 depending on the features you select.

Making the outdoor experience fun instead of traumatic...

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