We tested dozens of tricks to make walking with friends and family way more convivial. The staff of Ardennes-Etape is indeed composed of moms and dads with children of all ages and all temperaments! Here is a non-exhaustive list of our more or less successful experiences, depending on the ‘mood of the day’.
Depending on the age and enthusiasm of your children, choose among the following ideas (and share your own experiences with us!):
1. Prepare a mini backpack for your child so that he can carry it himself. Its content? Blanky, drink, snack… Specify when and where the break will take place.
2. Take a bag or basket to store your budding explorer’s finds (leaves, flowers, stones, pine cones, chestnuts, acorns…).
3. Turn a branch into a walking stick at the beginning of the walk to walk like real hikers.
4. Show your child the route and let him hold the map (at the map’s own risk, mind you).
5. Give the walk a goal: collect nettle shoots to make soup or pine cones for some DIY projects, collect as many leaves as possible to make some LandArt, pick flowers to make up a bouquet for the holiday home…
6. Appoint your child as scout. Mission? Looking for and reporting each signpost.
7. Let him run ahead and be clear about how far he can go and where he should wait for you.
8. Take a dandy-horse, a tricycle or a bicycle along if the route allows it. Long the RAVel, for example.
9. Give him the dog’s leash… if the dog’s training allows it.
10. Allow him to dip his feet in the creek and to build a dam if you have suitable shoes and a towel with you.
11. Choose a somewhat steep route like the Bayehon waterfall walk in Longfaye (Xhoffraix) or the Trö Marêt in Bevercé (Malmedy) to transform the walk into a small challenge.
12. Choose a route with an enjoyable destination: a playground, a wild park (in La Roche-en-Ardenne, for example, where you will be ale to take a little train to go down the hill again!), a brasserie with pancakes on the menu, an observation tower (Domaine de Bérinzenne in Spa), etc.
13. Organize some geocaching adapted to your child’s age.
14. Take a break to harvest blueberries, blackberries and raspberries on the way.
15. Plan a mini treasure hunt. At each signpost, give him a small challenge. For example, writing the first letter of his first name with twigs, collecting 5 different leaves, jumping over a tree stump, finding the name of 3 trees, naming 5 forest animals, etc. Make up a system to keep score and plan a reward at the end!
16. Play « Walk like… » a little mouse, a frog, a rabbit, a deer… Ask your child to imagine how these animals walk in the forest. It works very well if Mom and Dad do it too, of course!
17. Stop to listen to the sounds of the forest.
What about you, what tricks do you use to turn a walk into an adventure and share the joys of walking with your child? We’d be glad to receive your ideas!