"If they want to look for bugs, you look for bugs with them," he said. "Put interactive stuff in their little day packs -- cameras, bug catchers, magnifying glasses, stuff like that."
The Internet gets a lot of blame for modern youngsters' stay-indoors lifestyle, but Alt sees it as a motivational tool to get kids excited about hiking.
"Get on the Web and show them pictures of where they're going and what they're going to see. Get them all buzzed up about it," he said.
Electronic technology, widely blamed for keeping older kids indoors, can also help get them outdoors.
"Get a GPS receiver and take them on a geocaching adventure," Alt advised. "Give them a smartphone and make them journalists, taking pictures and uploading them to Facebook or their home blog. The kids won't even realize they're walking."
Once youngsters get used to the idea of hiking, Alt said to get them involved in planning the next adventure.
"Ask them where they want to go next," he said. "Start showing them videos and websites. Let them plan the vacations. And as they get older and get into the social scene, let them bring a friend along."
Equipping a child for hiking doesn't require a lot of money.
"With infants, you basically need a child carrier and good shoes for yourself," Alt said. "For the first couple of years after they start walking, you can get by with putting good comfortable sneakers on their feet. Once they start carrying a pack, they should have hiking shoes with good sturdy soles.
"Synthetic clothing is important because, unlike cotton, it wicks moisture away from the skin," he said. "That kind of clothing used to be available mostly from outfitters, but nowadays you can find it at big-box stores. The only true specialty item you'll need to buy is waterproof-breathable raingear."
The book "Get Your Kids Hiking" contains 11 appendices -- gear lists for care-giving parents, for infants, for toddlers and for kids in several stages of development from preschool through teens. Alt has laid them out in plain language and in a format that's easy to read.
During the June 13 book signing at Taylor Books in downtown Charleston, Alt and his family will be available to the public from 5 to 7 p.m. He said he looks forward to helping other parents get their children started in a wholesome outdoor activity.
"Kids growing up today are given iPads and are told that's what fun is," he said. "I want them to learn how to have fun in the outdoors."
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231, or e-mail johnmc...@wvgazette.com.