When Do You Start Kids On Trekking

It is wonderful to get calls from parents wanting to know which trek to take their kids on. Parents who are keen trekkers themselves know the value of the outdoors. Kids learn life’s little lessons quickest when they are on an adventure.

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So when do you start kids on trekking? The answer is as young as possible. But not in the way most parents think.

 First, understand a few physiological truths. Kids grow rapidly. Every day, their arms and limbs gain strength and grow new muscles. With kids running around the whole day, their lungs are getting larger and processing more air. Kids seem to possess an infinite bundle of energy. Yet, like a cheetah that springs after a gazelle, these energies are in bursts. Children cannot sustain the endless energy required on a trek. Which is why on a long trek kids tire easily.

When kids are tired they get bored and lose interest in the surroundings. They absorb less and soon the purpose of taking them on a trek is lost. Parents are left with a crisis to handle.

 Like any other sport kids need to be gradually introduced to trekking. Here is how you go about it:

 By the time kids are three, it is time to expose them to the outdoors. Take them out of the city and on a nature walk. It need not be in the hills. Even a nearby pond or lake would do. Give it a theme, like a flower walk. Get the child to show you flowers of 5 different colours. Keep the walk not more than an hour or so. Always set a theme for your walk. It could be a flower walk, a bug watching walk, a leaf collecting walk, stone gathering walk. Kids love the sense of collecting things so allow them to get back their collectibles.

 Very soon kids will start to badger you to take them out on a theme walk!

 When they are four or five year old kids get more adventurous. They want to explore more. It is time to take them on longer walks. Target a local hillock and see if you can challenge the child to get to a point halfway. It is ok if they lose sight of the target and get interested in something else along the way. Walk as long as they are happy and full of energy. Reward them with a sandwich or something to eat when they reach the target (yes, avoid chocolate rewards!). Show them how to get to the milestone by reaching smaller targets like a big bush on the left first and then brown boulder on the right higher up. Life’s lessons are built in.

 A visit to a nearby hill station at this age does a world of good to their memories.

 By the time kids turn six or seven they are ready for day treks. Their understanding of the world has increased multiple times and they love challenges. Enroll them on day hikes or take them on one. Set up a fire and see if you can get the kids to cook a small meal (like noodles). Make them self sufficient and set out tasks for them. For example, talking to a few locals and getting directions could be a task. Pouring over a map and locating spots on the way could be another. Collecting dead wood for the fire could be another. Kids at this age love organizing things. Get them to organize the gears for the trek, or the food. With digital cameras you could get them to photograph the trek as they see it!

 When kids are eight or nine they are strong enough for a four/five day Himalayan trek. They have been mentally prepared and look forward to the trek. They can easily manage without parents and make ideal team members. The confidence gained from a Himalayan expedition sticks with them for long. It reflects in their studies and other activities.

 What happens if you have never done the preparation that I have laid out and yet want to start your kids on trekking? You don’t have a moment to lose. Start them immediately, but choose what’s best for them. If they are 5-6 year old, don’t think of a Himalayan trek. Start with day treks with themes. If they are 9-10 year olds it is ok to start them on easier Himalayan treks but accompany them. If they are into their teens get them to do Himalayan treks but without you.

 Treks give kids valuable life lessons. It is ingrained in the trek and requires no teacher. Parents recognize this and want their kids to imbibe them. This is a welcome movement that is starting in India. If you are a parent and have tried something with your child I would love to hear your experience. Use the comments box below.

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Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking, he leads Indiahikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India. He has written extensively for Discover India magazine and is a TedX speaker. Read Arjun's other articles. Watch Arjun's TedX talk. Watch Arjun speak about our trekking trails. Learn from Arjun about what it's like to work at Indiahikes.

28 thoughts on “When Do You Start Kids On Trekking

  1. We have taken our kids to sikkim and bhuthan . A minimum of 4 hrs of hike every day. They have been very sportive and managed it very well. We are keen to take them for a winter trek sometime. Our kids are aged 5 and 7.

  2. Hi, I am a father of 7 year old boy and I want to introduce him to trekking. I am based out of Mumbai and would like to know the options and or trekking calendar and further guidance in this regards.
    Thanks!

  3. I am a 17 year old boy and i love nature I wish to go on an adventurous trek in the himalayas.
    I am a first timer and my physical strength is average.
    I love snow.
    Which trek should I prefer?

    1. Hi Saumya, if this is going to be your first trek, then go for Kuari Pass. It is one of the best treks to start with. You’ll find the details here – indiahikes.com/kuari-pass/

  4. Hi, my Wife and I would like to take our daughter, Aged 6 for a trek. It will be a first organized trek for all of us. Do you have any suggestion? Can you arrange one for us?

    1. Hi Amrit. You could try going to the Kuari Pass trek with your family. Its an easy to moderate trek which your 6-year-old daughter should be able to do. Happy Trekking 🙂

  5. Hi, I am a father of 4 year old girl and I want to introduce her to trekking. I am based in Mumbai and would like to know the options or trekking destination n guidance in this regards.
    Thanks!

  6. hai
    i am planning to start trekking. so, are there any easy and better places to start as i am fresher in this? and would u pls suggest trekking spots in and out of hyd?

    regards
    sushma.

    1. Hi Sushma
      You could start with treks for beginners such as Kuari Pass, Dayara Bugyal and Kedarkantha treks. But yes, going on local hikes around your city is a good idea. You can go for treks like Moula Ali, Ammuguda, Bhongir and Durgam Cheruvu. All these are day hikes around Hyderabad with a bouldery terrain. A friend recommends GHAC, a local adventure club which organises these treks.

  7. I want to do my first trek along with my 4 year old daughter …May u please suggest easier treks where I can take her along to make a start …I m based in Delhi

    1. Hi Shivam, I think you ought to wait a couple more years before taking your daughter on a high altitude trek. Something so strenuous is not meant for children that young. However, you could consider taking her to Prashar Lake by car and camping there for the night. That will be a good introduction to the outdoors for your child. 🙂

  8. Hi I am planning for a family trip with my wife and 2 kids both age 9+ to kedarkantha in end of March or 1st week of April..
    I am confused and worried whether kids will be able to do it..u have mentioned kedarkantha is suitable for 7+ ages but I have seen many videos of this trek but none of them have children…
    So whether they can do this trek easily..they are physically fit normally as other children of this age liking playing in schools..cycling etc…

    1. Hi Dinesh,
      Children will be able to do the Kedarkantha trek. It is, indeed, suitable for children above 7 years of age.
      Our founder, Arjun Majumdar, took his daughter on this trek when she was six years old and she was able to complete this comfortably. Here’s a picture of both of them at Juda ka Talab 🙂
      Hope this helps.

  9. Hi ,

    I would like to take my 7 years kid to trek Himalayas in April 2018 .kindly suggest me which place suits well and share me the link to book the package.

  10. Hi guys …I am.taking my 9 year old on her first trek -chandrashilla and that will be a snow trek …

    Was wondering if u could help me out with the basic must have in her bag to combat a snow laden trek

    1. Hi Ashima,
      You’ll find the list of things to take here. You can replace one of the water bottles with a thermos so that your daughter has access to warm water even while trekking. In addition, you could pack some nuts to snack on the trail.

  11. Any Treks planned for April/May, planning to send my 13year boy for his first trek. Somewhere near South India will be preferable

  12. Hi,

    Looking for trek along with my 6 year daughter during the month of August 2019 or October 2019. We will be coming from Hyderabad. Please suggest a easy trek that can be done with my kid.

    Thanks in advance,

    Regards,
    Subodh

    1. Hi, we are planning to open Kedarkantha and Dayara Bugyal for family treks during those months. We will update the batch dates on our website in the next week. Do stay clued in 🙂

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