When bushwalking with children choose a hike that is short and easy with lots of interesting features. Select a walk aimed at the youngest or least fit participant so that children don’t finish the activity tired and irritable. Walks for pre-schoolers should be no more than 500 – 750 metres. If they are fit and willing 5–7 year olds can comfortably tackle 1–3 kilometres, while older children can cope with greater distances depending on their fitness levels.
Children need to be clothed and equipped appropriately to keep them safe, comfortable and happy on a bushwalk or hike. Read the Gear pages for more detail on what to wear and what to carry. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on the right gear, but it is essential for children’s safety and comfort, and the safety of the group, to bring appropriate footwear, clothing, food and equipment. See the links below for information on additional gear to bring on a bushwalk with children.
Many hiking clubs encourage parents to participate in bushwalks with children, but always ask the leader’s permission to bring children on a club activity. Often the leader will request parents complete a risk waiver form before participation. It is not the job of the walk leader to supervise children. Parents on a club walk are responsible for controlling their children and ensuring they don’t engage in dangerous or disruptive behaviour or wander off alone.
Before going on a club bushwalk it is important to discuss the proposed route with the leader, giving them a realistic picture of your children’s age, fitness level and experience. Don’t be offended if the leader recommends an easier walk. The leader is thinking of your safety and the safety of the group.
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