Your kid’s first camping experiences have a formative impact on the rest of his or her life. Nature gets in your blood, and the earlier you let yourself be bitten by the camping bug, the richer your life will be. Make sure you share these important and unforgettable firsts with your kids.
The First Fish
Nothing compares to that first fish you pull out of the water. Whether netted from a clear, cold stream or reeled in from a seafront pier, snagging a fish is many kids’ first taste of independence and unbridled excitement outdoors. It’s a great lesson for any young outdoor explorer: the coordination required to perform the act, the tenacity needed to wait it out, and the ultimate sense of accomplishment when they finally succeed, all wrapped in fresh air and quality bonding time.
The First Wildlife Sighting
These days not many children grow up surrounded by wilderness. Those who dwell in cities have perhaps never seen bears, moose, deer, foxes. Strategize to make sure you’re with them and attentive to the joy of the moment when that experience occurs. Keep a field guide on hand and keep your eyes open. Plot out areas like wildlife refuges where the sighting is likely to occur. Your kids will grow up influenced by the importance of preservation and the awe of sharing our planet with so many wondrous creatures.
The First “Off the Grid” Experience
When you venture beyond hookups and wifi access, when you leave the camper at home and grab the old rucksack, you bring your kids back to a time of self-reliance and joy in accomplishment. Whether you set up tent in a designated spot and venture out daily on hikes, or backpack on a family through-hike, you’ll show them that life is meant to be experienced more deeply than gadgets and convenience.
The First “Fail”
Kids are often protected from frustrations by parental buffering. We don’t like to see our kids suffer, so we help them out behind the scenes. Sometimes, it’s great to give your kids a fun, magical boost in confidence. But it’s equally important to let them see what happens when we don’t succeed. Give your young ones some opportunities to mess up. From tents that don’t want to pitch to spilled cooking water, make them reach just beyond their comfort level—while still observing safety practices—then give them the emotional support to overcome goof-ups and improve their performance next time.
The First Wilderness Skills
You know your kids’ level of development and preparation for an outdoor adventure. Each trip will build on the last. The awesome part of this ever-evolving acquisition of skills is that you’ll get to have many firsts with them. The first time you let them help tend the fire. The first time they lead the pack on a hike. The first time they identify constellations on a crisp summer night. You’ll instill in them a sense of progress and a lifelong love of the wild.