My students call any walk in the woods a “hike”, and it is usually one of the most requested activities when they vote on activities at the beginning of the year. We are lucky to be surrounded by nature in our town, so opportunities are abundant. If you are in a city check out the local parks, lookouts, or interesting areas that can be explored.
Hiking is a fun and social activity that allows students to get out of the classroom and connect with nature. It can also improve mental health and mood, and depending on the intensity, can be an excellent physical workout and sense of accomplishment. Hiking is an excellent lifelong activity and students often tell me that they brought their family or friends on a hike after we have done it as a class. I have also found that students are more appreciative of where they live when they are introduced to a cool view, geological feature, or neat place right in their own backyard.
A few things that I discuss with students about hiking are:
- Wilderness safety – animals, what to do if you are lost, etc.
- Don’t go alone
- Don’t go if the weather is bad or if it will be dark soon
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back – don’t change your plans without telling them!
- Wear appropriate footwear and clothing
- Bring water and food
- A cellphone, GPS/compass/map, whistle, and first aid kit are also good items to have
These tips are for small hikes. There is a lot more preparation and information for overnight or more remote or challenging hikes.
So get outside and have fun! Contact your local hiking club or talk to students if you need some ideas. And remember to always try out the route before you bring your class on it! 🙂