written by Miriam Russo
Hiking is a very common activity nowadays. It is based on walks along paths surrounded by nature – usually on mountains. The aim is to explore and discover the territory, so as to see and live it even closer.
Not only is this kind of excursion widespread in Massa Lubrense area, but it is also expanded thanks to projects and events for adults and children. Especially the latter can get in touch with this exciting activity and, at the same time, get to know the territory. For that matter, one of the luckiest projects is “Merende Itineranti“, conceived by Lucia Sessa for the Pro Loco Massa Lubrense, to whom we asked some questions to find out more about hiking for children.
What is hiking and why is it the ideal activity for everyone
Hiking is generally the activity of walking, which differs from trekking in terms of times and duration: while trekking (which is also very popular in Massa Lubrense) includes excursions of several days, hiking takes place in one day only. Furthermore, hiking has its main focus on the movement, therefore it is mostly experienced as a sporting activity. Extending it to children, it allows them too to walk and move and to discover the territory at the same time.
It is ideal for everyone because – thanks to its short duration – it allows the little ones too to move without making too much effort. Moreover, as Lucia Sessa has highlighted, it helps to regain good breathing, which has great and positive consequences on both physical and psychological walkers’ condition.
Hiking rules for kids
Although it is an activity that makes one free, hiking has its own rules too. They are based mostly on respect towards the surrounding nature and other people. For this reason, children are told to be silent during the walks and/or to stop at some points. This allows them to respect the common pace and to take time to breathe and observe what is around them, too. Another important rule is to follow and listen to the guide who describes interesting details along the road and points out any dangers.
“Merende Itineranti” project
It’s a project born with the aim to create activities specifically for children during summertime. From the beginning, there was a double purpose: physical activity on one hand and discovery of the territory on the other. Over time, thanks to the positive feedback gained, Lucia Sessa and her team were able to diversify their excursion plans. They chose even longer paths which led them to farmhouses where kids were able to be in touch with animals and even learn about the local dairy production. At the very basis of the project, there is always the aim to get children involved, in fact, they carry out different tasks. In some experiences, for example, they have been able to discover particular locations and to see closely how the old crafts are still done nowadays.
Moreover, when it is time to have a snack, children are offered local biological products, with the purpose of taking care of nutrition too, which is another fundamental rule of hiking.
First reactions and approaches
The first reaction to the project was undoubtedly positive and proactive: the children saw in the “Merende” an opportunity for sharing and a way to be together at the end of school. At the same time, their parents too found pleasure in learning about characteristics and features of the place that – in the habit of everyday life – they didn’t even notice. Over time, this has led to a growing will of participation which has made the project successful.
Age ranges for hiking for children
Hiking really is an activity within everyone’s reach. In fact, the children who participate to the “Merende Itineranti” project are aged from 5 years upwards. In cases of more difficult itineraries, the age group can change, but basically, it is an activity suitable for all ages. There is a careful selection of the paths based on the ideal of maximum inclusiveness. For this reason, the routes proposed are accessible also to participants with disabilities, giving them the opportunity to join the project and benefit from both the hiking and the discovery of the territory. In fact, hiking in the area is practiced by involving all the fractions of Massa Lubrense. Therefore, excursions are organized so as to reach different areas of the place in order to create more collectivity and learning opportunities.
All these characteristics – and the way Lucia Sessa and the “Merende Itineranti” project carried out the hiking for children activity – make it something unique that everyone, adults and children, should try. Our invitation and advice are to experience what it really means to immerse yourself in nature, to discover and know more about the territory of Massa Lubrense as well as yourself.