26 Nov 2020

Family tramping: tips for getting kids into the backcountry

From Nine To Noon, 11:31 am on 26 November 2020

Good weather is probably the most impact factor for a trip into the bush with a young family, says keen tramper and father of three Jamie Stewart.

"If there's one tip for going tramping with kids it's 'go in good weather, grab a good forecast'."

The Stewart's middle child is autistic and responds really well to outdoors, Jamie tells Kathryn Ryan. Getting out together helps the family cope, as well.

Their youngest child is just two months old and he's been encouraging their appreciation for the outdoors since day one, Jamie says.

When kids start walking, it's time to start getting them out in the wilderness, he says.

Children are sensory beings and crossing different terrain will help them develop agility and decision-making skills.

"Kids like natural surfaces. They like tracks with roots, rivers with rocks … we tend to get unduly stuck on gravel paths sometimes. My kids, they just respond so well to actually being in the bush, actually being in rivers."

Going once every few months won't build a habit - try to get out for a nature walk as a family at least weekly, Jamie suggests.

Some other tips:

  • Make the days short to start with

  • Take a mixture of food your kids like and filling, nutritious food

  • Carry a complete change of clothes for them and a towel

  • Carry a raincoat and a fleece for them

  • If you're staying overnight in a hut or tent don't bother with sleepwear, they can sleep in their clothes

  • Tramping boots aren't necessary and often uncomfortable. Jamie's family buys their kids running shoes for $40 - $50 from Number One Shoes.

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