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. Here 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 laptop gaming backpacks 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.