Get the Family Psyched to Hike with Fun Games
Keep your family walks fresh and entertaining with scavenger hunts, a “storybook” walk, and more!
Kimberly Burger Capozzi
Do you sense your family growing weary of your usual hike through the park? Are you hearing moans, groans, or the sound of feet dragging when you suggest another stroll through the neighborhood?
Next time you want your family to get some exercise, surprise them with a special activity to do along the way. Even a walk to the supermarket is a great time to play these games. So lace up your shoes and get started, because these games were made for walking!
Team Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of things you might see on your walk. Some ideas: a chattering squirrel, a red-leafed tree, a bicycle rider. Assign points that will go to the first person to find each item. Unusual finds, such as baby birds in a nest, earn bonus points. Don’t forget to take along the list and a pencil to keep score! On the way home, try this twist: Pick a common sight––such as a robin or jay––and challenge the group to accurately predict how many might be spotted during the walk. The person with the best guess gets to choose the after-walk snack.
Trail Mix Picnic: Have everyone select a favorite ingredient for trail mix and carry it along on the walk. (It’s OK to veer from the traditional dried cereal-and-raisin mix. Toss in some mini-marshmallows or leftover candy-cane bits!) Pick a spot where you’ll stop and snack––a park bench, a scenic overlook, or your front stoop. Combine the ingredients in a plastic container with a lid, shake, and dig in!
Guess What I Found: Everyone selects a natural object during the walk and puts it in a paper bag, trying to keep the object a secret from the others. (Set rules: no animals, no live plants, and no thorns or other things that could cause injury.) Take turns reaching into each bag and trying to identify the hidden objects by touch. Next, try to guess the location where each object was discovered. Go ahead and give clues!
Garbage Grab: Arm your family with garbage bags and a sense of community spirit and pick up the trash along your street, stream, or neighborhood park. Work gloves are a good idea, too. Award a “medal” to the person who collects the most, finds the strangest object, or shows the best effort. The medal can be made by looping twine through a hole in a mini yogurt container lid. Be sure to dispose of the trash properly and recycle if you can. And check out these ideas for making the most of your cleanup: http://www.adopt-a-stream.org/earthday.php
Storybook Walk: As you head out, begin a story that you create using details you see along the way. For example: “One day, a boy named Matt decided to visit his friend the wizard who lived in the woods. First, Matt had to pass over an old wooden bridge that was said to be magic.” Each person takes a turn adding to the story, always incorporating something he or she sees during the walk. Another idea: Take along a favorite book and read a few pages out loud every time you stop to rest.
Parents: Remember to carry home all trash and anything else you bring along on your walk, and be aware of the hiking rules at your park. And check out these hiking tips!
Kimberly Burger Capozzi is a mom and freelance writer based outside Pittsburgh, PA. She has written about parenting issues, wind power and military spending programs, and chronicles her family’s efforts to cook wholesome meals at www.chefzi.blogspot.com.
Get Outdoors with Your Family