If your kids will be wading in creeks, take along extra tennis shoes they can wear to protect their feet from broken glass and sharp rocks. Or buy water shoes or socks with tough soles.
Have your child carry a whistle so he can summon help if he becomes separated from you. Carry one yourself so you can call him, too. Also, issue everyone in the family a flashlight—in different colors to avoid ownership battles—for those inevitable night-time treks to the restrooms.
Families who rough it on vacation consider camping a great adventure. It takes kids away from the television and exposes them to the unique pleasures of seeing nature up close, catching fish for dinner, building a campfire, or bathing in a pristine lake. Plus, camping is a heck of a lot cheaper than a resort.
On a camping trip, kids need extra supervision around campfires, grills, fishing hooks, matches, knives, hatchets, and other camping equipment. They also need to be watched near lakes, rivers, or streams close to your campsite. (For tips on water safety, see Is My Child Ready for Swimming Lessons?, and Swimming Rules. For advice on protecting kids from the sun, see Sun Safety for Children.)
What to Take on a Hike
Even parents of infants can go hiking—babies in back carriers are a familiar site on hiking trails these days. For kids who are good walkers, investing in sturdy shoes or child-size hiking boots can make their hiking days more comfortable. Dress your child in layers to accommodate changes in temperature, and don't forget the sunscreen.
One mistake many hikers make is not carrying sufficient water. With a child along, you may not be going that far, but summer sun could still cause dehydration. Take water bottles for each family member, some snack foods, and a small first-aid kit.
Also, take a map and a compass. In case your child gets tired, you'll want to know the shortest route back to the trail head where you started.
Caution your children not to drink stream water.