This summer my family went an overnight backpacking trip to a gorgeous meadow tucked in the mountains. Our party included me, my husband, my 10-year-old son, my 6-year-old son, and our dog. Our journey included walking 12 miles and climbing 2000 feet of elevation while carrying everything we needed. We have done this type of camping in the past with our kids, but this was the farthest distance to date for their little legs. My older son carried a proper pack with his own gear the entire way. My younger son carried a small pack filled with stuffed animals for about 1 hour of the trip before handing it off, but he managed to go the distance on his own two feet.
Trips like this are a ton of work, and truth be told, there were as many thorny moments as there were rosy. We were all so exhausted and crabby at one point that I was tempted to question whether the effort was worth it. But like all big undertakings with children, I believe you put in the time and roll with the ups and downs in order to build a better next time. Or as my husband and I discussed, we needed to let them be maniacs and mess up so they could learn from experience, even at the expense of peaceful communion with nature.
Our biggest challenges:
BUGS – The flies were awful, and the kids spent most of the time in a tent playing cards to avoid being bitten. I was not so lucky: I got a nasty bite on my back. The natural bug repellent I brought in an attempt to avoid harsh chemicals around the kids did absolutely nothing. So while we did not do a ton of exploring at our destination, a champion of Crazy Eights was decided amid a glorious setting.
DEER – I have encountered many deer throughout my life, but never have I seen deer so interested in humans. They visited our campsite regularly, at least 30 times. Our dog was not pleased and felt the need to alert us continually throughout the night. We had very little sleep because of those deer, but it was a clear reminder that we were guests in their home.
HEAT – We were on the eastern side of a mountain range where it was blazing hot. We were so dry and covered with dirt that several hand washings once we got back to town still didn’t feel like enough. We live on the western side of the mountains, which is known for the dark, damp climate, so a little heat goes a long way with me. I was ready to retreat back to our cool, shady corner.
The time to and from the car was a little over 24 hours, but it felt like days. That said, we did create some wonderful memories. We got to enjoy marmots whistling in the evening while the sun set over the mountain peaks. We imparted important back country skills to our boys around bathroom etiquette and water treatment. We slept under the stars and woke up in a meadow of wild flowers. We celebrated the accomplishment of seeing a place that you can only access on foot. We had an adventure that will hopefully serve as a building block for the adventures to come. And for that next adventure, I am definitely packing an arsenal of bug spray.
Tell us about a building block type of undertaking with your kids. What did you/they learn from it, and how did it go the next time?
This has been an original post for World Moms Blog by Tara B. Photo credits to the author.