Monday, June 17, 2019

Hiking: The Best Family Hobby

When someone says hiking, you might envision someone climbing a mountain or backpacking on a trail for a couple of days.  Both would be consider hiking, but not the entirety of what I'm talking about.  Most places you find yourself, whether living or on vacation, are within 30 minutes of a state park or wildlife refuge that contain trails meant to be used.  These trails are typically well-maintained and difficulty level well advertised.  Most parks are free admission and have bathroom access in the vicinity.  For a family of 5, free entertainment is the way to go any time you can get it!

A few of you have already written me off right now, because you feel hiking aka 'going outside and getting gross' isn't for you.  Why would you do that to yourself, right? Well, let me tell you why.

The Relationships.  Spending time - not staring at a screen - with people (especially your family) is invaluable.  Mr. Butler and I have learned a lot of life lessons together on hikes.  My family's personalities and tendencies have a habit of playing out on hikes.  We get to know each other and learn to work together while hiking.  Most relationships can sustain a walk on a trail so this is something they have done with friends, grandparents, cousins, etc.  Taking a walk together is bonding time!  There's nothing more fulfilling than to see your family's relationships grow and flourish.  Activities like this is exactly the type of memories we want to have!

Brothers resting together.

Health.  This is a fact and not something to be ignored or argued with.  Going outside in nature AND being physically active on a regular basis is good for your body and mind.  We are a disease-ridden and anxious society that needs more healthy activities.  Period. 

View from Mather Lodge, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Perspective.  While the physical structures of man have much to appreciate sometimes, what God created and continues to cry out praises to the Living God - well that's a horse of a different  color, you might say.  When you stand next to a beautiful mountain or get lose in miles of forest, you begin to gain a perspective not available anywhere else.  It isn't the same watching it on a screen or taking a walk on the treadmill.  It can change you, if you'll let it.

This hike turned out to be longer and more strenuous than we expected so we were beat by the end.  This was our despair towards Mr. Butler for pushing us!  But we felt amazing once we cooled off.

Education.  There is a lot of history in some of these parks!  Between wildlife, horticulture and the beginnings of the individual place, there's a wealth of information to be gained when you read a historical marker or pick up a park guide.  This is certainly a big perk for homeschooling families!

We have taken our kids hiking since they were babies and its now their favorite vacation activity! If you or your family might be a resistant to this new hobby, my advice is to make it non-negotiable for the first 5 times.  Once you experience the positive effects and enjoyment that is available, it will be easier to maintain a good attitude.  Oh, and snacks! Always bring plenty of water and snacks for the complaint moments.  Usually, we're just tired and hungry.  :) 

The kids love having their own packs with water built in.

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