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If you want to get your kids used to hiking into a camp instead of just driving up and setting up a tent I think it is best to start while they are young. At first I would just take them to a local hike and not even spent the night. But definitely have them carry a light pack with some of their own food. We started by taking an evening hike with our kids when they were 4 and 6 years old. We set out at 4pm and planned to stay out until about 8. My husband and I helped them think about what they would need. They each made their own sandwich and they made whatever they wanted. We let them take some snacks that we do not normally allow in the house, such as candy and chips. We also made sure we had some healthy snacks.

After the food was all packed they packed their sweatshirt and hat for when the evening cooled off. Also make sure you have something to keep the bugs away. There is nothing to make a child unhappy more than mosquito bites while you are trying to introduce them to hiking.

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Our first hike was just a short portion of the Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. If you live in San Diego go to http://www.sunsetcliffs.info/ and download this brochure to find out all about Sunset Cliffs. We chose this because it was right along the ocean so the kids would have the waves to look at and they may even see some sea animals. Also something like this has rocks to climb and all kids love that and at the same time you are getting them used to climbing. We took our time let the kids stop and look at anything they wanted. After about an hour of hiking we stopped and ate. We wanted to make sure it was starting to get dark while we were hiking back so the kids could use their flashlights to get us home. And make them feel like they are leading the way.

Go to Target or http://www.target.com/ for some cute backpacks and let them pick out their own. My daughter was 4 at the time and she picked this backpack.

Skip Hop Zoo Pack Little Kids & Toddler Backpack Ladybug

We did not let them use the backpack until the hike so they would be excited to pack and get on the hike.

So we had a lot of fun and the kids loved it. We have since gone on a few more hikes and they are starting to ask when we will have time for the next one. This summer we hope to get them interested in hiking so when they are a little older we will start taking overnight trips. It is a great way to spend family time without any distractions.

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