LIFE SKILL: Confidence
Step 1: Mark the trail.
—Have kids choose where they want to explore in the dark. It could a familiar walk through the neighborhood, a stroll in a local park, or a nature trail near your house.
—Challenge your kids to come up with several observation activities that fellow hikers will do on the trail. For instance:
• If the hike is along a field, one activity might be to look for lightning bugs.
• If the hike goes near water, another activity might be to listen for frogs and toads.
• If the hike happens during a super-clear night, one more activity might be to search for the Big Dipper.
• If the hike passes wild plants or neighborhood gardens, sniff out fragrant flowers that bloom at night.
—A couple hours before the hike, have kids place lit glow sticks along the trail where they’ll stop to do each activity.
Step 2: Let your kid lead.
—Remember, your child is in charge the hike. It’s OK for an adult to get the hikers to the “trailhead,” but once you arrive, turn things over to your kid.
—Before starting, have your child provide hikers these tips:
• Let your eyes adjust to the darkness.
• Use flashlights sparingly and follow the moonlight as much as possible.
• Walk slowly.
• Keep voices down while walking to avoid startling the animals.
• Stay silent at the observation stops.
—Allow your child to lead hikers from glow stick to glow stick and give instructions at each stop. (Make sure to collect each one as you pass.)
—Ensure your little leader pauses long enough at each observation stop to complete the activity. (Three minutes is a good amount of time for distraction-prone kids.) It’s up to the child to decide when to move on to the next activity.