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Backpacking with Children

By Sarah Holt

Although backpacking with children may seem like a lot of effort, the benefits gained from taking them along can far outweigh the hassles. The benefits include not competing with technology for your children’s attention, teaching them self-sufficiency skills, and watching them connect with the peacefulness of nature. Below are six tips that allow for a more positive experience when backpacking with children.

1. Involve Them in Packing

Make a list of the items to bring and have your children help collect them. If they are not old enough to read, you can read the items to them. This is important because the more the children are involved in preparations the more they will feel a part of the trip, and the less likely they are to be resistant to backpacking.

2. Get Their Help With Choosing the Trail

Choose a couple of trails and sites that are acceptable to you and then let the children choose from among them. This is another way of involving the children and letting them have a say in where you will be going.

3. Give Them Special Items for Backpacking

Give them something special that is to be used only for backpacking. Children enjoy binoculars, water bottles with fun designs on them, walking sticks, and small waterproof cameras. Another special item that is not only fun, but can be very useful, is their own flashlight.

4. Get Them Excited About Going

Getting children excited can be as simple as talking about backpacking in terms of how fun it is. Another method of eliciting excitement is to go to the library and get books on, and about, backpacking. These may be how-to books, especially illustrated ones, or fiction books with characters that have adventures in the woods.

5. Bring Along Games

While there is a lot to entertain children with while backpacking, it is always a good idea to bring along a game or two. These are useful when it rains, or at night when the children are in the tent, but too restless to sleep. Small, lightweight games specific to backpacking can be found in stores that specialize in outdoor activities. Other options consist of purchasing an extra small deck of playing cards (these are about 1/4 of the size of standard decks), using travel versions of traditional games, or repacking games, such as bring the dice from a Yahtzee game in a zip lock bag with a couple sheets of paper and small pencils or pens.

6. Praise Their Hard Work

It can work wonders when children feel that they are impressing their parents. One easy way to accomplish this is to comment on how hard they are working, both with the hike and with camp chores. First, encourage them to do a good job, and then praise the results.

While backpacking with children can be extra work, the end result is often more than worth it. There is something about nature than can calm even an otherwise hyper kid, and time alone with parents provides the perfect opportunity for long talks and quiet companionship, that may proof elusive when at home where computers, televisions, and phones all make distractions a common occurrence.

So, load up the kids next time, and build a special memory that only backpacking with children can create.



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The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Backpacking with Children