Well, hello there. It’s been a hot minute since I last posted, but I know there’s at least a few of you out there who are familiar with the world of a teacher so I’ll just tell you that we are down to the last six days of school. Imagine the chaos that has been my life for the last few weeks!
The bright side is I was able to de-stress a little bit by FINALLY getting out into the woods for some backpacking this weekend. I am ashamed to admit it, but it’s the first trip we’ve been on since our big trip last summer. Remodeling hell is responsible for that, and I am going to be so glad to get that behind us! As we were driving to the trailhead, I told John that next spring, when we are in the new house and no longer have to worry about “projects”, we’re hiking every weekend!
This particular trip was special because we took a group of newbies. My sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece, and two nephews wanted to get out and experience primitive camping so we took the group out for a short stretch of trail.
Mostly the trip was about getting their feet wet. It was really important to us that we make it a good experience for the kids so that it’s something they want to do more of. Today I thought I’d share some tips on how to accomplish that!
1. Don’t pack on the miles
This weekend we went about two miles to camp, and I am not kidding you when I say they were complaining at the half mile mark. Hiking can be overwhelming for tiny humans who are not used to it so it’s best to introduce them to it in small increments.
2. Keep it light
John and I usually carry about twenty pounds in our backpacks, and I’m fairly certain that’s more than a 1/3 of my six-year-old niece’s weight. Loading kids down with a ton of weight will not only make them miserable, but it’s not good for their little bodies. My advice is to let them carry something so they get the experience, but keep it really light. The bigger boys carried their sleeping bags and an extra change of clothes, and my niece carried a small day pack with clothes. No one was heavy!
3. Camp near water
We camped right near the river, and the kids had a blast swimming. It provided all kinds of entertainment, and the pure joy on the kids’ faces was evident.
4. Bring good food
All you backpackers out there know that food on trail is not exactly gourmet. Don’t get wrong-I honestly like some of the dehydrated meals, and it’s the only time I ever eat Pop-Tarts so I wake up enthusiastic for breakfast. However, we didn’t feel the kids would be quite as excited about our “Just Add Water” meals. So instead we packed in hot dogs, baked beans, and macaroni in cheese with marshmallows for dessert. I’m positive that made a difference in the general moral of the group.
5. Give them a job
We told the little boys to gather some firewood, and they attacked the project with gusto. They roamed all over the woods, and you could clearly see how proud they were they were to contribute. Giving them a little responsibility really made them feel like they were active members of camp.
All in all, it was a really successful trip. Here’s hoping it’s the first trip of many for these kiddos!