Get Your Kids Outside During the Pandemic!
Jeff Alt
High on Adventure, September 2020

Cincinnati, Ohio based Jeff Alt, adventurer, teacher, and author of Get Your Kids Hiking and the young adult national park time travel series, The Adventures of Bubba Jones, is on a mission to help parents and kids of all ages get outside and stay in shape having fun safely during the pandemic. 

Researchers agree that the risk of COVID transmission is lower with outdoor recreation activities. Scientific evidence proves that time spent in nature increases your creativity, helps prevent depression, improves your overall health, and is a great way to spend time together. 

Why are walking, hiking and camping among the best activities you can do during the COVID19 Pandemic?

Due to the pandemic, students, parents, and teachers are having to study and work remotely indoors this fall and maybe into the winter.  But excessive screen time is being associated with increased childhood obesity, mental health issues, and even social skill problems. On top of that, many sport activities have been cancelled this fall due to the COVID pandemic. 

All of this points to the importance and the advantages of walking, hiking and camping as a great way to stay healthy physically and mentally.

How do you stay safe from COVID19 exposure while camping and hiking?

• Stay local!  Explore your local area. Avoid popular trails and destinations.  Take the trail less traveled. Hike and camp at times and days when the park is not busy. 
• Be prepared! Bring your own toilet paper, hand sanitizer and travel wipes.  Restroom facilities may not be open and this will allow you to be self-sufficient and sanitary.
• Keep your distance! When you encounter others, step off the trail and let them pass.  Make sure to stay six feet apart and don a mask during the close encounter.  Turn your face away from others and don’t stop and chat!
• Be extra cautious in public restrooms. Wear your mask if you go in a park restroom. If you touch a surface, wash and sanitize and keep your hands away from your mouth. Wash your hands and use your travel wipes and hand sanitizer frequently.

Planning for Outdoor Recreation and Fall Family Hikes

A big part of making a fall hiking and camping adventure fun and safe is to stay warm, dry, hydrated and fed.  Fall can offer some brilliant leaf peeping opportunities, but you may also experience adverse weather conditions. Here are a few tips:

• Plan ahead. Study your area and identify the best places to go in advance.
Bundle Up for the Season and Stay Dry: Make sure everyone is wearing layered non-cotton clothing.  Pack along hats, mittens, and a waterproof outer shell.
• Map, Compass & GPS: Bring a topo map, compass and GPS (if you have GPS) and know how to use them. Know how to signal for help if you’re lost (three loud whistle bursts, bright colored clothing item placed in open clearing; etc.).
• Bring a hiking stove and some Cocoa: Pack along a hiking stove, hot cocoa and soup packets. Most kids never turn down a cup of piping hot cocoa after a cold romp in the snow and this will also help warm your inner core.
• Pack Extra Snacks & Enough Water. You burn more calories in cold weather and the added snacks will keep your kids energized. Be sure to bring your kids favorite foods to encourage everyone to eat. Stop often for water breaks.

Start’em Young: Ergonomically designed baby carriers make it easy and fun to carry your infant and toddler with you wherever you hike. Walk to your favorite park or beach.  Stop often and let your little one explore. Make your hike a routine your kids will look forward to.

Let the Kids Lead!: Follow the leader! Hike at your child’s pace and distance. Whatever your child takes interest in, stop and explore that bug, leaf, or rock with them. Tell them about the animals, rocks, trees, and flowers. Getting to the destination is less important than making sure your kids have so much fun, they will want to go again and again.

Count Down to the Adventure: Psych the kids up with pictures, videos, and highlights of the places they will go and the things they will see. Use books, magazines, maps, and the Internet, especially park websites and videos showing the spectacular wildlife and locations they will see. 

Bring Water and Food Kids Love: Hand out needed extra energy snacks and water as needed on the trail. Pack their favorite snacks and bring plenty of water. Stop often for a drink and a snack. 

Pack Fun Items: Let young children fill their adventure pack with a bug catcher, magnifying glass, binoculars, a camera, a map and compass, whistle, or flashlight. Let your little adventurer take ownership and pack a few items of his own; even if it’s not hiking-related. 

Play Games and Bring a Friend: Play I Spy using your surroundings as you walk along. Create your own scavenger hunt in search of animals, plants, and views along the way. Make up rhymes and sing songs as you walk. Pack a plant and animal identification guide for your older child. Let your social butterfly bring a friend, with parental permission. Intrigue your computer-savvy child with the high-tech hiking gadgets like a GPS, headlamp, flashlights, and pedometers. Use your GPS and take your kids on a geocaching adventure. 

Suit Up in Comfort, Style, and the Latest Technology

• Footwear: Make sure everyone is wearing trail shoes or boots with a sturdy sole. A Vibram sole with a waterproof breathable liner is preferred. Wear non-cotton, moisture-wicking, synthetic or wool socks.
• Clothing: Dress for the weather! Wear non-cotton synthetic, wool & fleece clothes and dress in layers. Wear multipurpose clothes like pants that zip off into shorts or shirts with roll-up sleeves. Pack a waterproof breathable rain parka. Dress for the season with a fleece hat & gloves or a hat with a wide brim for sun protection.
• Packs: Get age- and size-appropriate backpacks that fit each hiker comfortably with hydration hose capability.
• Trekking Poles: Get a pair of adjustable, collapsible poles with an ergonomically designed handle for each person.
• Fresh, Clean Water: You can get a hydration hose system for your pack or just use bottles. Disinfect wild water using hi-tech portable treatment water systems such as a UV wand or micro-straining filter.
• Communication: Bring a smartphone so you can take lots of pictures and if there’s connectivity, email to family or upload to your online blog or Facebook page. Carry a GPS unit to keep you located on the trail and for geocaching.
• Other Must Haves: Suntan lotion and bug repellent containing Deet or Picaridin; First aid kit that accommodates the whole group & first aid knowledge to go along with the kit. Bring a compass & map and brush up on how to use them. Learn how to make a shelter to keep you warm and dry. Keep matches and a lighter in a dry place and know how to make a fire to keep warm. Carry a whistle and a signal mirror in case you get lost. Pack a survival knife with a locking blade. Bring a headlamp flashlight, extra batteries, 50 feet of rope or twine, and always have several feet of duct tape for that unexpected repair.

Jeff’s Newest Book

The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling Through Grand Canyon National Park was just released on August 3rd, 2020.  It is the fourth book in time traveling national park series designed for young adults ages 8 to 12, which combines education with entertainment in a thrill packed journey through time loaded with fun facts about history, ecology and science about the park and its inhabitants.

Bubba Jones book
The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling Through Grand Canyon National Park

By Jeff Alt

Illustrated by Hannah Touhy  

List: $9.99  Trade softcover - 182 pages ISBN: 9780825309274    Age range 8-12: curriculum guide and discussion questions with a time line & adventure map  Official Publication Date: August 3rd, 2020 Published by: Beaufort Books, New York, NY.
About Jeff Alt
Jeff Alt is a speaker, award-winning author, outdoor recreation expert, and accomplished adventurer.   Alt’s books and keynotes inspire staffs and individuals to increase productivity, enhance creativity, achieve life balance, and go distances beyond what they ever thought possible.  Jeff walked the entire Appalachian Trail which inspired an annual charity, that has raised over $500,000 for people with disabilities.  He backpacked the 218-mile John Muir Trail with his wife, carried his 22-month old daughter on a family hike through Ireland, and took his son on to the Appalachian Trail at 6 weeks of age. Alt is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). Alt has been featured on radio & TV and in print including Fitness RX for Men, Women's Health, Shape, Backpacker Magazine, ESPN, CNN-Radio, Hallmark Channel, Discovery, USA Today, US News & World Report, and many more.   Alt is the author of six award-winning books, A Walk for Sunshine, Four Boots One Journey, Get Your Kids Hiking, and his time travelling national park series for youth, The Adventures of Bubba Jones. Previous editions of Alt’s bestselling book, A Walk for Sunshine have received 6 book awards. Alt lives with his wife and two children in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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