Into the Wilderness with the Whole Family
Backpacking trips are a wonderful way to make memories with your family. Depending on the age of your kids, it’s important to prepare in the right way. We’ve put together a few tips for your first trip into the wilderness with your family. You know your kids best, so apply these tips as necessary, but we think it’s a great place to start.
Make Sure You’re Prepared
Practice: Take a long walk (up to 2 hours) in a natural location near to home to introduce young legs to long-distance hiking. On a trail, progress to a half-day trek.
Pitch a tent in the backyard or even within your house to simulate camping at home. Allow children to play in it and sleep in it overnight so they are accustomed to a new sleeping environment.
Observe: Pay attention to how children react to new outdoor conditions and alter your pace and aspirations accordingly so that the experience remains enjoyable and not overly challenging.
Be enthusiastic! If you're not excited about an outdoor activity, why should your kids be?
Involve your children in the planning process by asking them for suggestions for things to do or see at your location. Take their suggestions seriously.
Friendship is priceless! Hiking with another family with children can be enjoyable for children. Yes, believe it or not - after a while your children may become bored with you and friends or extended family may provide more fun and excitement.
Once You Get on the Trail
If this is your first time out, choose a campsite that is within a mile or two of the trailhead. You won't have too many steps to retrace if you need to bail out for some reason.
Adjust your expectations as necessary. We've heard stories about families venturing on challenging off-trail trekking trips. For children, this can be tedious and exhausting. If the excursion is unpleasant, you risk instilling in children a negative attitude toward the outdoors, which can take a long time to reverse.
Share the load. Give them a small backpack and allow them to carry a few light objects such as snacks, water, a sleeping bag, or rain gear, possibly.
On the trail, if you have two or more adults in your group, it's usually a good idea to put one in the lead and the other in the back, with the children in the middle.
Share chores. Encourage your child to help with camp duties. Consider putting your child in charge of keeping things tidy and clean. Because children appear to understand the concept of environmental stewardship more instinctively than adults, this is frequently an assignment that is a good fit for them. Kids are also great at gathering sticks for your Littlbug stove and evening campfire!
Keep your kids safe by making sure they always have a whistle (train them to blow it if they become separated from you) and a flashlight or headlamp.
This is a fantastic way to get your family outside and having some fun. It's a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your kids while also teaching them about the outdoors.
Have you taken your whole family out on the trail yet?
If you have, what’s your favorite memory?
If you haven’t, what are you most looking forward to?
Remember: Their first wilderness experience will leave a lasting impression on your children so be sure to make it more about them, than you.
ICYMI: Littlbug was featured on The Camping Show! Check it out HERE if you haven’t watched our episode yet!