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Old 09-04-2017, 11:35 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 61
First Backpack Trip With Young Kids

Hi all. Last weekend of September or first of October I'm going to bring my five and seven year old boys for our first overnight trip. I'm going to a nice tent site that is about 4.5 miles in on a relatively level trail, I've been there before during this time of year.

I'm looking for suggestions of little activities to do that will help them hone some outdoorsy skills, that are suitable for this age. Just something to occupy our time during the day, and maybe something to do in the evening too.

Also any other tips for this overnight would be welcome. We've done hikes, and overnights in the yard. This week be my first time combining the two.

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Old 09-04-2017, 12:16 PM   #2
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In the morning and especially the evening, have them sit (perhaps with eyes closed) and listen to the sounds around them. Have them try to identify the noises they hear. It's a useful exercise to diminish one's natural fear of unrecognizable sounds.

Help them identify plants with emphasis on not eating anything that even looks remotely edible (leave the identification of edible stuff for when they're older). Tell them what uses the various trees and plants may have (Dad is, of course, allowed to have a guidebook handy).

Begin to teach them the very basics of orientation. The sun rises in the east, sets in the west (leave out the seasonal variations), water flows downhill, etc. Where is that hill with respect to us? (Ahead, behind, left, right?) Where is the sun with respect to the direction we are travelling?

While walking, try to incorporate all the above as games. It'll keep them occupied and perhaps delay lamentations like "Are we there yet?"

At camp, drive a stick in the ground to create a sundial. Show them how the shadow can be used to tell time.

Teach them to never lose sight of one another or the camp. Equip them with a whistle. Instruct them to use it if they wander off and lose sight of you or feel lost or disoriented. They may be too young for this exercise, but you could have them walk several yards away from camp, stop, blow their whistle, and you arrive to retrieve them.

Show them how you make a campfire but teach them to respect its danger. Allow them to collect suitable kindling and dry firewood but reserve the ignition part for yourself. For greater "magic", skip the match and use a magnesium striker to deliver a shower of sparks. Definitely allow them to toast marshmallows or whatever else you brought. Again, reinforce the duality of fire, and most everything else in the natural world, that offers us both good (like heat and light) and bad (like burns and pain). The dividing line is our knowledge of where it exists between the two states.

Above all else, try to make it breezy and fun. Maybe everything I mentioned might bore them to tears. You know your children best so focus on ensuring they simply enjoy the experience and ask to return for more.

Good luck!
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Old 09-04-2017, 04:54 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 120
Have them make a debri shelter
As tb mentioned direction awareness
After explaing direction whenever you change direction ask them what direction they are now headed
Show them birch trees
Then have them look for them along the way and gather some birch bark
At camp show them how well birch bark burns
Also scat and tracks id
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Old 09-05-2017, 07:44 AM   #4
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Location: Rochester NY
Posts: 246
Go to your local home improvement box store and see if you can pick up a selection of paint color sample cards. Fan them out, each kid picks a few and has to find something in nature that matches.

Cut a short length of rope for each and work on the basic knots that you may utilize in camp.

Have them work with you on the menu: focus on weight, ease of prep, ease of clean up and of course yummyness. Discuss the 'bear-muda triangle' (eat at one corner, store food at another, sleep at third).

The sawyer type water filters are oddly interesting to youth.
Eyes on the Forest, not on the Trees
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Old 09-09-2017, 07:31 AM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Great suggestions thanks

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