My daughters school does a six week after school program twice a year. Once in the Fall and once in the Spring. My daughter has done some fun clubs such as arts and crafts, photography, dreamcatchers and legos. When the flyer went home for the spring session they were asking for volunteers. My daughter says, “Mom they will let you do a hiking club, you should do it.” The first thing I thought was, that sounds like fun, a way to get outside more and encourage the younger generation to love hiking as much as I do. Then I thought, ugh another thing added to my plate, because let’s not lie, we all think that from time to time. After my internal struggle and my daughter begging me to do it, I reminded myself that this is why I work less, so I can do more activities with my daughter. I reached out to a fellow teacher friend who agreed to do it with me.
The planning began, what students were we going to open it up to, what would we do if it rained, where would we hike, could we do a bigger hike to end, what if no one signed up, what if they did not like it, what if they whined the whole time, what will I need in the my pack and so many other thoughts and questions went through my mind. Yes, I lead a successful women’s hiking group, but leading elementary age kids is a whole other story. After my friend and I went back and forth we finally decided that we wanted this to to open to the 3rd and 4th grade girls. We did not want too big of a group as we were not sure how it would go. Since my goal is to get women and kids more comfortable outside I thought this would be a good opportunity to do a girls hiking club. We came up with the description below.
I was unable to make the first group hike, well it was actually a snowshoe, but there were five girls that showed up and they snowshoed around the school. My friend told me it went well, my daughter had a great time and I was excited to be able to get out on the trail with them.
We were fortunate to have several miles of trails behind our elementary school. This was also a great way for my family to get outside in the evening because the hiking group only had an hour and I didn't want to be woods longer than we were suppose to. We spent a few evenings exploring the trails.
I was able to make the second hike and the rest of them moving forward. Most of the snow had melted and we were able to explore the trails without snow shoes. I learned the following things about leading an all girls hiking group.
There is always plenty of noise: Girls like to talk and talk a lot, there was always some form of conversation or questions going on. I loved listening to them talk.
They explore just as much as boys: They did not mind when we were bushwhacking or just exploring the woods. At times they were just content playing on a fallen tree or exploring that area around them.
They were interested in learning: They were pretty knowledgable about identifying various things outside like trees, tracks and trails, but they were always open to learning more and constantly asking questions.
They are good navigators: Many of them had a great eye on the trail. Many of the trails were not marked but they were able to look for signs to be able to navigate the trail
They hike fast: I’m a little embarrassed to admit that at times I had difficulty keeping up with them. They always got me a good workout. I guess I need to up my hiking game.
Always Be Prepared: Fortunately we did not need it, but I kept a first aid kit, extra water and snack and a fully charged cell phone on me at all times.
The best part of running this group at the end the girls always said how much they loved it and I truly feel that they did. The last day of the club we were able to hike Kidder Mountain. Even though it was cloudy and misting, they did not complain. They all did great and were proud of their accomplishments.
At the end I thanked them for joining and they all said they loved it, which made it so worth it. If you are in the position too, I highly recommend doing a hiking club at your local school, it is a very rewarding experience.