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Summertime Family Fun: Three Great Outdoor Excursions (page 2)

Summertime Family Fun: Three Great Outdoor Excursions

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Updated on Jul 2, 2009

Hiking

Hiking is the perfect way to get some exercise and enjoy the scenery in the woods together as a family. Even in urban areas, there are usually great hiking paths close by. When hiking with children, make sure to plan your route well. Don’t overestimate how far your children will be able to walk. Consider starting with a small hike (less than two miles) before working up to a longer trek.

Equipment? Make sure you and your children are wearing good footwear and good socks. (Cotton socks can retain moisture and create blisters. Look for hiking socks that wick away the moisture.) You will also need a good first aid kit, a compass, a flashlight, rain gear, snacks such as energy bars or trail mix, and plenty of water.

Plan on packing your supplies in your own backpack on the first trip. Kids can carry their own load once they become experienced hikers.

You may want to bring a camera or a small notebook for sketching nature finds along the way. Kids can keep a few souvenirs by making a bracelet out of masking tape (sticky side up) and collecting some leaves and nuts along the path as charms. You can play games, sing songs, tell stories, or just enjoy the silence together.

Fishing

If you’ve ever thought about taking your kids fishing and walked into a supply store to get started, you’ve likely felt overwhelmed. Fishing is one of the most relaxing, inexpensive ways to spend a warm summer evening with your family. You don’t have to have lessons or be an expert to take the plunge. But you may need a little guidance on how to get geared up and ready for a family fishing excursion.

Decide where you are going to fish. Ponds, oceans, and rivers all require different gear. So plan accordingly.

Do you need a permit? Check local state guidelines to see what the legal requirements are and to make plans for what you are going to do with your catch. Some fishing holes are catch-and-release only.

Choose some bait. Determine what types of fish you are likely to catch and ask around to see what the best bait is and where to get it. Old-fashioned worms make for great bait if you’re casting in a pond. But fishing in bigger areas can require other types of lure.

Get some simple gear. There’s no need for fancy bait or expensive hooks or even a tackle box. Start small if it’s your first time. You will likely need hooks, a bobber, a rod and reel, and a good set of pliers.

For the best experience, consider going one-on-one with a child and focusing your energy on him. He will need help attaching the hook and bobber, baiting the hook, and casting. Once a fish is caught, your young fisherman will probably also need help removing the catch from the hook.

Consider building on a skill during each trip. Your child may like to spend most of her time practicing casting. Don’t get frustrated that the lack of opportunity to “catch” a fish. Fishing with kids is really about the process and not the product.

By far, the hardest part of fishing is the waiting. Younger children may want to hand over the line to you while they play nearby. You can call them in when you feel a bite so they can reel it in. Older children may like to play some guessing games or make up stories while you sit and wait for that big one to grab your bait. Be prepared that you may have to help keep them occupied. Don’t forget to pack plenty of snacks, sunscreen, drinks, life preservers, bandaids and Neosporin. A good fisherman is always prepared.

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