Young kids need to stay active. They also thrive in new and challenging situations. Why not take them on an overnight camping trip in the mountains?
A few years ago, I took my step-grandson, Anthony, and his friend on a hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I pulled out two old backpacks and drove us up to the Mount Liberty trailhead. They asked me on the ride up if we would see snakes and bears; I told them to stay alert and be watchful.
Late morning, we started the climb up to the Mount Liberty tent site, which is about three-quarters of the way to the summit. At the site, I showed them how to get water and treat it. I handed them their private tent set-up instructions and told them to figure it out. It was a nice afternoon with plenty of time before sunset; they put their heads together and did fine.
I wanted to teach them about the wilds and quickly realized they would put up with some instruction, but not lots. So I took it easy on them. The next morning on the summit, they were wide-eyed as they huddled looking at views. The boys felt like they had accomplished something.
On the way back down, I let each of them navigate and quizzed them about what they would do if they got lost. At trail junctions, I asked them to pull out their maps and show me where they were. I had my watch and showed them how long it took to hike a certain segment–another way to confirm what you are doing, I’d said.
These pictures tell the story. We didn’t see any snakes or bears, but I taught them what camping basics I could in the time we had. They’ve turned into fine young men.