My Eritrean friend looked at me for a long time and then said, “Only white people do crazy things.” Well, that’s up for debate, but I had just told him that in addition to going backpacking the coming weekend with my 12 year old daughter, my 14 year old son would be backpacking by himself. To my friend who had grown up in war torn Eritrea, doing anything “dangerous” by choice was crazy. Rock climbing, backpacking, sky diving…these things that “white people” do for no reason and yet endanger us were beyond his understanding.
Backpacking with kids is immensely rewarding. For me and for them. I encourage anyone with kids to try it. Start them young, start them slow. And know their limitations.
But don’t be scared. They can do so much more than you think. So can you.
I have backpacked with my kids more than a dozen times, and never once with another adult, or a man, or a gun, or cell service. Sure things go wrong. But no one is going to get eaten by a bear or fall off a cliff. Overcoming the inevitable mishaps is part of the journey. And the confidence gained by accomplishing, conquering, and persevering is lifelong.
To wander. To explore, travel, experience. It brings me life. I wander through forest, down ravines, across meadows, along beaches, over rocks and logs, scramble up bluffs. If I’m outside, I’m happy. So naturally my kids were going to love the outdoors as well. But with a wonderful husband that doesn’t particularly enjoy being outside I wasn’t sure how much I could accomplish.