Over the years my owners have created a ‘bag of tricks’ that they take with them whenever they go hiking with their kids in the Rocky Moutains. I don’t know why they say they have a bag of tricks because in all the time we have spent outdoors I have never seen them open up an actual bag and pull out any tricks.
Sometimes when the kids are gone I hear them talking to each other about their ‘bag of tricks’. My best understanding is that their ‘bag of tricks’ is a number of things that they have to keep the kids entertained or moving on the trail. They seem to pull them out when the kids are getting bored on the trail and don’t want to keep hiking or when the kids begin to get grouchy.
I think that their bag of tricks is different tricks to help everyone continue to have fun while spending time outside, because after all a big part of being outside with the kids is to have fun.
I would suggest that all parents develop their own ‘bag of tricks’ that they can tap into when needed. All parents know their children best and not all things work the same for all kids. Some kids respond better to having snacks while others prefer looking for things on the trail or playing games.
As a parent it is up to you to create your own bag of tricks and dip into it when you need to. You should have a variety of things because sometimes the game that always was fun just doesn’t work one day. Some days, especially on longer days on the trail, it seems like my owners go through everything in their bag of tricks and have nothing left.
My owners’ bag of tricks seems to be a combination of actual things such as fruit snacks and things that they have in their heads, like songs or word games. Over years of spending time outdoors with kids their bag of tricks has grown bigger and changed. Some things that were always good with the kids when they were two or three no longer work as the kids get a little bit older. So, make sure that you are always bringing new things, games, or ideas into your bag of tricks. This will not only make sure that something works with your kids, but will also keep it fun and new – which means that something is guaranteed to work with your kids.
I talked to my owner and here are the different things that he has in his bag of tricks:
- Games to play
- Alphabet rhyming game – take turns saying a long, funny sentence where every word starts with the same letter. For example, Angry alligators are after an adventurous aardvark at at an astronauts’ airplane.
- Alphabet memory game – this is the old game where the first person says something with the letter A, then the next person repeats the A word then adds a new word for B, and so on…
- Have a variety of good, yummy snacks that the kids want to eat. (Remember – you want to make spending time outdoors a fun experience for them, so that they will want to spend more time outdoors. This means that you may want to have some gummy fruit snacks, candy, cookies, or some other special snack that they just don’t get to have at home).
- Singing songs – the parents should have several fun songs that they can sing along with the kids. Then when you are all on the trail you can sing some songs, such as ‘Take me out to the ball game’, Christmas songs, or any other songs your family may all know and like.
- Telling stories – this could be one or both parents just telling the kids stories or it could be one where each person including kids tells a small part of the story then the next person tells the next part.
- If all else fails – you may resort to bribing them. I would not do this very often because you do not want to make a habit of them getting something every time they go for a hike. If it is a hot day, then maybe you can talk about getting some ice cream or something else afterwards. If you make a long hike then you will have all earned a nice treat.