Over the last month we have been exploring hikes and nature parks in the central and south areas of the Okanagan. Some of these hikes are new to us, like Giant’s Head Mountain Park and Knox Mountain, while others, like Naramata Creek Park, are favourites that we are revisiting. Sometimes I develop this insatiable urge to explore new areas, all the while ignoring hikes and nature parks that we have already seen. Yet, after revisiting several hikes in the last month I am reminded about the importance of doing so, especially for my children.
Children benefit in several ways by returning to hikes that have been previously explored. The first being that it encourages connection to an area which in turn fosters place-based learning. By becoming familiar with an area my children are more aware of the seasonal changes that occur over the year. They might notice the growth cycle of Oregon Grape shrubs or note that a stream is so “full and fast in the spring!”. Connection to an area also promotes questioning and curiosity about an area’s geography, geology and culture. My children might ask “why does this rock look like this?” or wonder about the pictographs they discovered.
The other advantage to revisiting hikes is that it encourages further exploration. Often, on the first time through an area, there is little desire to deviate from the main trail. Yet during each subsequent visit to an area my children become ever more curious and want to explore new trails and gain new perspectives. Geocaching can be a great activity to encourage further exploration when revisiting hikes and nature parks.
Finally, and importantly, redoing hikes builds confidence in children. The first time we hiked in Naramata Creek Park it was a bit challenging. Granted, we had an old dog with us and my youngest had just turned three. When hiked there again last summer with our friends it was a bit easier, and now, one year later, not only did we venture further up the waterfall but we ran the whole way back to the parking lot and there were smiles all around (well mostly).
I am sure there are plenty of other benefits to revisiting hikes and I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to chime in the comment section below. In the meantime, happy exploring!