This small mistake, this simple phrase, it can unintentionally defeat the purpose of taking your kids out into nature...
We had a solid 90-minutes to hike the full trail. About 20-minute into our adventure we found this:
Hikers continued to pass as we played in the stream being fed by snow runoff from the mountain.
"Come on, let's go." the man yelled.
My daughter's head popped up. The little boy on the trail stared longingly at the small waterfall. After walking forward another 30-feet, his father yelled again. The boy shuffled his feet and ran forward to catch up with the rest of his family.
A few minutes later Rose asked, "Should we finish the hike?"
There was something about her voice when she asked that made me turn the question around, "Are you sure you're finished playing here?"
After a bit of back and forth, I realized the interaction she overheard and the annoyance in the father's voice had instigated this request to continue hiking. I smiled and explained to her that the trail will always be there, but the spring run-off will likely be gone the next time we come.
We spent the next hour playing with sticks, leaves, and rocks while trying to damn and redirect the run-off. Then we moseyed on back to the car, leaving the full hike for another day.
As I drove home, it hit me ... this family is out with their children on a Sunday hike attempting to instill a love of nature, but it is really our children who are teaching us the beauty of the world around us. This lesson can be easily overlooked if we are constantly telling our children "come on."
When hiking with kids, let them lead ... I promise, you'll be thankful you did.