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Camping with little kids

My son, Jack, turned five last month and is itching to go backpacking with his daddy for a full weekend – I’m secretly very excited about that happening too and know it’s going to be a blast when he’s finally ready. He seems to have genuinely inherited my love of the great outdoors and is more than happy to play around in the woods or scramble on rocks with my careful guidance of course. He’s also no novice when it comes to backpacking equipment and its correct use – start ’em young I say.

The challenge right now is that he’s still only five and if he’s deep into the woods with me backpacking and gets the desire/urge to go home – he can’t, especially if it’s already dark. So I’ve been trying to take small steps to get him comfortable with sleeping outside in a tent and doing little day hikes.

He’s just a bit too little to do and really lengthy hikes, but that okay for now and hasn’t stopped us from doing some pretty interesting day hikes. I took the opportunity to sleep outside with Jack in one of my tents while we were on vacation in Michigan recently. Of course he loved it and wanted to sleep out there every night, but the rain put pay to that – thankfully :) My hope is that by gradually introducing him to the fun of being outside he’ll soon be ready to spend his first overnight somewhere other than the back yard.

What steps have you taken to get your little ones ready for their first overnight backpacking adventure? Do you have any tips or advice that you can offer? If so, please leave your comments below – I’d love to hear from you.

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  • Sounds like your little guy is ready. My number one tip is something I learned the hard way after my son spent the night chumming for bears up in the Sierras. It’s obvious, I know, but keep them hydrated. They’re having too much fun to stop and drink, and when they do, they think a sip or two is enough. They get dehydrated, nauseated, and will end up throwing up in the tent, so keep a big ziploc, or if you can spare the weight, one of those plastic tubs that cheap supermarket brand ice cream comes in inside the tent.

  • SO CUTE! Love the music too – thought I was watching ‘This Old House’ for a min! Great backyard. The quality of that little vidcam is – wow. Such great little kids too, Brian. Have a fun rest of the summer!

  • We will certainly give you some feedback after our 5-6 day camping adventure in Kauai next week with my son Ian…for his 8th birthday!

  • I read your blog often, like what I have seen…

    On the note of preparing my kids for the outdoors, I have them in the Scouts…we teach them to be prepared and to understand the LNT principles, and that you can’t have “scouting” without “outing”…

    Great job, keep it up!

  • We will certainly give you some feedback after our 5-6 day camping adventure in Kauai next week with my son Ian…for his 8th birthday!