Wild Weather Walks: Rain Training With Your Children

March 7, 2014 in Strategy, Tips and Tricks by Matthias

Living in New Zealand always holds the possibility for some sudden adventure knocking on your door.

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last few years, you have most likely heard of mother earth’s antics here in Christchurch in the form of earthquakes that have shaken things up more than just a little, but the city is well under way into a new future, with the rebuild going at full throttle, and it’s a very interesting place to live and whitness half a city being built as fast as a time lapse film.

More recently, you may also have heard that we had the most severe rainfall here since some time in the seventies a few days ago. Lots of damage, heaps of main roads entirely unpassable – some even for four wheel drives, which are becoming increasingly more popular here, wonder why – and life coming to a near stand still for a day or so.

A few kayakers who used the opportunity to go for a paddle in what normally are streets reminded me of something we have done a few times in the past, and I thought it’s worth sharing with you!

Next time you are sitting at home while the weather really does not play nice, my suggestion would be to use the opportunity, and do some seriously fun rain training with your children!

Ok, if there’s lightning or life threatening sizes of hail, maybe better don’t. Also I’d recommend to watch out for trees and power lines in very high winds, and not get too close to any pre-existing or newly formed waterbodies.

But if we’re only talking about heavy rainfall in up to moderate winds, or with some caution even in higher winds, this really is an excellent way to beat your cabin fever, have ridiculous fun, and really improve your family’s tramping skills all at the same time.

It’s pretty simple. Here’s how:

1. Make a large amount of hot chocolate, and put it into a thermos bottle.

2. Get your kids and yourself equipped and prepared for the conditions as well as you can. For this particular experiment, it does not matter a lot if you feel you are not perfectly equipped or skilled. Note that this is very different from a normal hike where you do have to be prepared properly; I’ll explain in a moment.

3. While gearing up, make sure to hype up your children and yourself for a fun encounter with mother nature! It’s really easy to get into the right mindset. Once you accept you’ll get wet and you’re in for a bit of a wild ride, many people find it quite easy to see the fun in this.

4. If you have a suitable location right in front of your door, go to your entrance door. Otherwise, drive to your chosen location, such as a local park or even just a soccer field or paddock. You won’t need a lot of space, and the looks of the area don’t really matter much either – you will be very busy with the elements anyway and won’t have time to enjoy the scenery too much! In a pinch, even a rain battered balkony or driveway can do.

5. Take a deep breath, open the door, and step outside. Get used to the initial sensation of the intensity of the experience, and then go for a little stroll together.

6. If you are not quite sure where your limits are, don’t go further away from the house or car than a few minutes walking distance. The challenge is not in distance – the challenge is how long you can last in this weather!

7. Whether it’s after three minutes or an hour, when the time comes that you need to retreat to avoid getting too cold, get back inside, get out of your wet clothes and into some dry ones. Then pour your bunch a nice hot chocolate, sit together, and write down absolutely everything you can think of that could help you to fare better next time round. Did you forget to put the rain pants over the boots? Was your clothing warm enough? Did one of your children have real issues with the wind in their eyes? Which things worked well? Which things didn’t? Why? What can you do to change that? Write it all down, and do so right away. It’s amazing how many details you can forget in a short amount of time. A pen and paper is a fantastic secret weapon to seriously improve your gear and skills.

8. Follow through! Make sure you do all the improvements that you wrote down. Fix that zipper. Buy longer rain pants. Get ski goggles against the wind… whatever works!

The great thing about this little adventure is that it is perfectly safe, but it exposes you and your family to the worst weather you can possibly imagine, giving you a learning opportunity that you will never have otherwise – at least I hope that for you, because if you do your trip planning and weather forecast checking well, you should never end up actually hiking through weather like this.

Unless of course you know from gradually built up experience that that kind of weather is fully within what your family is able to do safely, and you enjoy it! Some of our greatest walks have been in very serious weather, and once you have learned how to handle it safely, that opens up some fantastic new options for your tramping career.

Now look out of your window. Right now. Stop reading, look outside. If the rain is pelting your window, switch off your computer, get your kids, and get out there! Be quick, or the rain might stop before you’re ready!

What have you got to lose? Last time I checked, human beings were not dissolveable in water.

Enjoy the storm – and your well earned hot drink afterwards!


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As a passionate dad and outdoor enthusiast, it was a no-brainer to take my son Loki on real wilderness trips from very early on in his life. Finding an experienced mentor to teach us how to do that right turned out to be impossible, and it took a lot of hard work to figure it all out. Today we are regularly spending top quality time in the bush and the mountains, and I would like to enable more families to have this great experience. I have created the Trailbabies Network as a way to share what we have learned over the years, so you and your children can have a much easier and quicker way to start enjoying safe and fun hiking trips together. I'm looking forward to hear from you - welcome on board!

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