As summer dawns, it’s the perfect time to plan out some family time. Quality versus quantity is more than likely your go-to as a military family, and hiking is a great activity for the family. My family has really gotten into hiking like so many other families recently. And I’d love to share a few reasons I think hiking is great for families, and especially military families:
- It gets your family outside, especially after a year when so many have been quarantining at home and stuck inside their four walls. It’s so refreshing to step into the great outdoors and see no barriers. The fresh air is a great reminder that we aren’t made to be stuck inside.
- It’s great team building. Unlike other vacations or weekend activities, hiking can bring on a new set of challenges for families. If the great outdoors or even hiking hasn’t been a thing your family has done in the past, vulnerabilities will undoubtedly become apparent. Kids will cry, parents can get frustrated and bathrooms don’t materialize when you need them. However, when you are all working towards the goal of finishing the hike, a sense of teamwork and comradery is echoed through the family ranks when you finally see the parking lot. This type of team building is paralleled through units in the military. When you share the same hardships, you tend to become closer. And it’s a great way for a family to grow closer and build deeper relationships.
- One of my favorite things about hiking is how it has developed a sense of confidence in my kids, particularly my daughter. She tends to be more on the cautious side of life. And like so many fears, the unknown or the lack of knowledge can shadow reality. But this is where my husband steps in. As the military member of our family, he has a great deal of knowledge about navigating and survival. It has been so meaningful to see how he passes down his experience and wisdom to her. Over time her perception of the woods and hiking has changed, and she has gained confidence through the education her dad has passed on to her. In fact, on most hikes now she takes the lead and has turned into a confident, compassionate and intelligent leader. This passing on of information from one generation to the next almost feels ancient in today’s society. However, I believe there is something about being in nature that beckons that old family tradition and encourages truth and wisdom to be shared and passed down. And we need more of that experience and expertise shared.
- Hiking is also a great way to make memories with your family. Isn’t it true that we can recall more memories when we are away from everyday life and everyday surroundings? It’s almost like removing us from the background of our lives makes our memories carve the new details, exchanges and images deeper into our minds. I can see a picture from any one of our hikes and recall something particular that made that hike unique. I believe as parents we want our children to remember their childhood fondly and have pockets full of memories that bring back smiles and fun memories. Hiking is a great recipe for memories that last a lifetime.
- It’s cheap and not a huge time commitment. There are several reasons why taking vacations every year in the military seems impossible. Schedules, time and money are three of the big reasons. But hiking is a great way to be able to get away frequently and cheaply. You can hike in one day, and you can pack a small picnic and snacks for the whole experience. No matter where you live, there is some level of park or trail within a reasonable distance. And if you’re looking for a weekend commitment, there is always camping or backpacking! It is the perfect answer for military families who need to get away without a huge commitment from their wallet or calendar.
In conclusion, hiking is a perfect activity for military families looking for a getaway that includes the great outdoors, memories, team building, life lessons and not a big commitment. I encourage everyone to give it a go and see how quickly hiking can become a favorite family pastime. See you out on the trail!