4 First Steps to Becoming a Trail Family

Becoming a TRAIL FAMILY is exciting, but may be a bit overwhelming. Questions from, where to start, to how can we make this fun and not a chore, to what gear do we need all come to mind. Here are four quick tips to get you started in becoming a TRAIL FAMILY.

START SMALL. You do not have to hike the Appalachian Trail or climb Mount Everest to enjoy some family time. You can do a simple search online to find a trail near by. Just grab your sneakers and a water bottle and hit the trail. Don’t worry about how far or how fast you walk at first. The key is that your kids enjoy it and want more adventure. You can build on distance and speed later. Simply take a stroll and make some memories.

TRAIL FAMILY girls at Geisinger Stewardship Forest in Danville, PA

CARVE OUT THE TIME. We all tend to lead overscheduled lives. If your children are school age and involved in extracurricular activities you probably feel the time crunch. You feel like a bunch of roadies living in a mini van, without the enjoyment of the concert. Your new goal of cultivating a TRAIL FAMILY lifestyle will help give you some breathing room from the busyness of fast paced modern life. But you also need to proactively set this time aside. If you say you will hit the trail “when you have time” it may never happen. It does take some intentionality. Look at your calendar today and pick a time or two you can hit the trail this week.

“The key is that your kids enjoy it and want more adventure.”

MAKE IT FUN. You are psyched about cultivating a TRAIL FAMILY lifestyle. You can’t wait to get out there to hit the trail! The last thing the kids need is an edict from on high that “We shall now be a TRAIL FAMILY, and you shall like it!” We don’t want the TRAIL FAMILY lifestyle to seem like eating vegetables, but like savoring dessert. Approach your family with a spirit of adventure and joy. You may still have to drag one or two along before they catch the spirit, but this will happen organically, not because it is forced on your children.

A casual stroll on the D&H Rail-Trail in Northeastern, PA

GATHER INFORMATION. Now that you have started small, carved out time for the trail, and have almost everybody on board for this new adventure; you need information! The directors of your local trails and parks want your community to know all about how to find the trial head and what events are going on. Likely, there is a brochure with maps, phone numbers, and websites available. However, we only tend to pay attention to those brochures while we are on vacation. It seems counterintuitive to need such information about where we live. But millions of people live within a half an hour drive of a trail that they have never been on. Get your information ahead of time so you are ready to go. If mom and dad spend half an hour in the parking lot of the trail head trying to figure out a map, this will be counterproductive to the fun you are trying to create.

How can you start small this week? What are two times you can carve out to make this happen in the next couple days? Where is the closest trail to where you live? Do you have the information needed to make the trip the most fun it can be to children who are bombarded by screens? We hope that your TRAIL FAMILY adventure this week is a blast!   

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