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Help. Son doesnt like packing or hiking
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Jackie Barker
Help. Son doesnt like packing or hiking on 09/17/2011 08:41:31 MDT Print View

I need help. Advice. Somtheing. Ive been a Scout leader for about 15 years. My first son who is now 20 enjoyed his scout "career". Had a great group of kids & leader that were all open to about anything outdoors. Now the 13 year is a different story. We or I maybe picked what has turned out to be not the right Troop. Non productive meetings & a group of boys that most dont seem to have an interest in anything. There are a couple who will go on hiking & packing trips. Mine says it is boring, he does not like it. Im kind of ok with that,its not for everybody. Problem is I like it a lot. I have,like most of you Im sure have a large investment of time & money in gear & learning. I dont want to give up the packing & hiking and have offered to work with a group of troops in order to get a larger group interested. But Im not sure its right for me to spend the time doing these things with others if my own son is not there or interested. Also not sure how the wife would take it either,me being gone on a trip with others but not ours. I wouldnt even mind just working with the adults,but again not sure how she would feel about it. Anyway,this is too long as it is. Anyone been in a similar situation. Advice on how to handle?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Help. Son doesnt like packing or hiking on 09/17/2011 08:49:03 MDT Print View

Why don't you have a talk with the misses first. She actually may have some insight. If you continue to go out and have fun, any chance that doing so would change his mind/spark some interest? You are facing a giant of an adversary in electronics. You will find a solution that works for all. Although it may not be ideal. What do you do with your son outside of scouting?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Father Son stuff on 09/17/2011 10:52:47 MDT Print View

Seems the scout troop isn't helping. I could imagine you going without the boy or dragging him along being a source of conflict. If thats the case I would drop the scout troop so there is one less thing to argue about. Tell him if he doesn't like it he doesn't have to go. On the other hand you as his dad still like the outdoors so it would be nice if you could draw him into that with or without the scout troop.
If he's 13 he'll be at that age where boys want to "flex their muscle" so to speak so anything thats seems cool or tough guy might be a winner (go beyond just backpacking to things like rock climbing, whitewater sports, and shooting if you're okay with it). Think has he ever watched "Man vs. Wild" could you teach him some cool survival skills like starting a fire in exotic ways? I know at summer camp all the teenage boys thought it was cool when I showed them how to start a fire with flint and steel and they liked playing with my survival knife.
Good luck.

Edited by Cameron on 09/17/2011 10:54:51 MDT.

scouting on 09/17/2011 14:54:59 MDT Print View

Although most scout leaders do still have sons that are active in scouting, that is obviously not a requirement. If you have something to offer as a leader to others, feel free to do that. Every troop can use people with experience to handle organizing activities and teaching skills, it will be greatly appreciated. Qualified adult leaders are always in demand. If your son isnt interested, that doesnt preclude you from filling a role. It is not uncommon for some leaders to hang around and stay active for years after their sons age out, especially if they were scouts themselves.

You obviously also do not need scouting to participate in the outdoors. You can do it on your own. You could probably do MUCH more of it on your own, than with the scouts.

Edited by livingontheroad on 09/17/2011 14:58:44 MDT.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Help. Son doesnt like packing or hiking on 09/17/2011 15:53:35 MDT Print View

Maybe you could let your son plan a backpacking trip for the two of you. Say that you know he is bored with scouting, but that you really enjoy getting outdoors. Then give him a map that shows wilderness areas and national parks and tell him to find something within a reasonable distance from your home (someplace interesting as far away as you are willing to drive).

Jackie Barker
father,son on 09/18/2011 16:13:57 MDT Print View

Well I asked him why he didnt like. Says just not for him. Honestly I dont do much other stuff. Cycling regularly thru summer. Use fall,winter & spring for hiking & packing. I got a little puffy about it I guess. Told him what a complete waste of time the video games are, Im not saying kids should never play them but when thats their main source of entertainment,thats my fault in a way. We both are kinda quiet so we dont say a whole lot at times. Anyway,I said I was going to continue going & would like for him to go as well,that he would miss out on some great times. So,is it really wrong to make him go? Or go without him & feel like a butt the whole time. We have some pretty decent places fairly close by. Paducah Ky. Land Between the Lakes is only about 30 miles. River to River trail in Southern Ill 25 miles. Savage Gulf in Tennesse is about 3 1/2 hours away. What the heck? 1st wasnt wild about it at first either & was a little chunky. I made him go,got him in better shape so he wasnt struggling to keep up all the time then he started enjoying it.

Jennifer McFarlane
(JennyMcFarlane) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Backpacking and scouts on 09/18/2011 16:36:35 MDT Print View

We had to change troops. The first troop we joined was a "dads and lads" troop and in the orientation they said they did not like for women to go on their trips. Not the right troop for our family- I wanted to go too.
We then looked at three other troops before joining one that is a big troop (110 registered scouts) with a lot of involved parents which means one person does not have to do everything.
We let our son make the choice of which troop.

My son is also addicted to video games (his words, not mine) and is quiet and does not say much. The troop also has a "no electronics on outings" policy, but that just makes playing cards more fun.

In the beginning, we went on everything with him (he's 13 now and into his 3rd year in scouts) and is starting to really enjoy the backpacking activities. I find the more time he spends outside, the more focused he becomes.

In our home, he must earn screen time- defined as any time spent staring at a screen of any type. We "pay" him in screen time for not complaining on backpacks, among other things. Suddenly, this summer, he says he got himself in the right frame of mind to enjoy backpacking (that and the lightweight conversion we made over the past year). His pack for a weeklong backpack weighs less than his school backpack. The lighter pack and him recognizing that his enjoyment is related to how he frames it in his own mind made for a great hike this year. Instead of lagging behind with his parents (I'm a slooow hiker) he was up with the rest of the boys. He hiked 26 miles with thousands of feet elevation gain over 5 days.

I guess my advice is to look at the troop and see if the boys his age are at a range of ranks where he will fit in. If the troop fits, then stay. If not, look at others. Keep taking him to meetings and on outings. Eventually he will change. I have seen this happen with at least a dozen boys over the past two and a half years.
Best of luck to you. This is a time where it is even more important for parents to be involved in a boy's life. If you are not already- find a video game or games to play with him. Connect in any way you can.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Thoughts on 09/18/2011 20:08:55 MDT Print View

Its not "wrong" to make him go but by 13 it might be a bit late. You can teach a younger kid to like things(I sure have) but at 13 he'll be forming his own idea of who he is and if he makes up his mind it won't change easy. It might be a losing battle - you're in a better spot to know than me.
As far as going without him thats not wrong either. My thoughts would be
1. Don't go backpacking if it cuts into time with your boy or if it even appears too.
One thing I really admired and appreciated about my dad was the amount of time he spent with us. I knew if somethign was important to me my dad would sacrifice his own free time and hobbies in order to drive me around where I needed to be or help me out in other ways. You have no idea how that made me feel as a teenager with no friends. Keeping up with a teenager is hard enough without letting a hobby be a source of conflict.
2. If I was in your shoes I'd be thinking of some kind of car camping trip that involves a few friends, s'mores, lots of junk food, and something like a throwing knife or flint and steel to play with. Maybe if you did something like that and he enjoyed it you could work out what he would like and plan a trip that he would enjoy.
3. If all else failed I just learn to play the stupid video games with him and go hiking with the 20 year old when he's around. The relationship is more important than the sport. He might agree to join you later if you keep the relationship strong.
Hope that helps.

hiking on 09/18/2011 20:59:41 MDT Print View

Going for a long walk with 20-30 lbs on your back is probably not something that every 13 yr old looks forward too. Many only want to do it if everyone else is, in a big group of kids, and have no desire to just go do it alone with dad. Although we think we are cool to hang with, the kids have other opinions sometimes.

But many kids do look forward to going to Philmont. Not just for the backpacking, its all the different activities they get to do there as well. Maybe you can bait him to stay involved for that? Or boundary waters, or sea base, etc. Our troops 13+ yr olds chose not to backpack this fall in order to go kayaking, so they obviously arent all that thrilled with backpacking either. Kind of "Been there, done that, dont need to do it again" attitude.

I would wager that if he had a really good friend that was going and that was into it, his attitude might be different. When it comes to shaping them, kids are more affected by their peers than by their parents.

Edited by livingontheroad on 09/18/2011 21:03:02 MDT.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
backpacking with reluctant youth on 09/20/2011 15:45:07 MDT Print View

I did backpacking, mountaineering, and hiking for 38 years before being involved in scouts. With three daughters, I took them backpacking as long as I had influence over them, but they really were not into it. I started scouting with my son 4 years ago, and he is now aging out of scouts, almost got his eagle done.

We barged into a car camping troop, and I started leading backpacking trips. Half the troop loved the change, half the troop and parents hated it. They aged out and are gone, so now the troop does a lot of backpacking and its the norm.

My son is now more interested in friends, video games, girlfriend, and sports. We include his high school friends on all the trips we can, and go on non-scout backpacks. Most of the scout backpacks I lead, he does not go on.

If you get a lot of enjoyment out of outdoor stuff, keep doing it. It doesn't have to be with scouts, but scouts give you a bit of cover because you can claim some kind of humanitarian credit. Eventually you will have to come to an agreement with the wife, such as including her on trips, or her going to visit her mother while you are on a trip.

You can't make a kid go hiking for long. Including his friends is one enticement to add, and if he doesn't connect with scouts in his troop, going on non-scout trips is fine. If he has an interest that can be stoked while on a backpack, that helps, like herptology, photography, fishing, peak climbing, or cooking.

Kids hate to change troops, but maybe you and he could go to a lake that another troop is going to, and get to know some of the other kids on the trip. Maybe some of his classmates are in another troop you could visit.

It would be a tough one if your outdoor trips depend on your son's involvement, or on your association with scouts.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Son Does not Like backpacking .... boring on 09/20/2011 22:32:15 MDT Print View

To the original poster, it is not clear that your son has any friends in the troop but what worked for me was the following

- We Joined the troop at the same time as a number of his friends and acquaintances from the same elementary school (and that had a backpacking program! and snow camping!)
- We did the Troop's intro to backpacking his first year and while he was 2nd Class, we completed the Troop's two part intermediate backpacking (Skyline to the Sea) with his friends
- The next year I took over leadership of the backpacking committee. I would recruit the dad's of his friends, who would recruit their sons so at least two of this friends were coming
- Then I would tell him that the Troop was having a backpacking trip. He would say "Who is going". Once he knew his friends were coming, he signed up

He ended up being one of the only scouts in the troop who completed the backpacking MB. He also went to Philmont and loved it, got his Eagle, and now is co president of a backpacking club at his college, leading a couple of trips a month.

BTW, at Philmont, while hiking he and his friend probably spend 4 to 5 hours a day discussing War of Warcraft.

P.S. he hates snowcamping :((

Jackie Barker
No Backpacking on 09/21/2011 15:46:44 MDT Print View

Yeah,if he had some friends in the troop it would help. And Im ok that he doesnt like it if I can get him doing something else outside. We are going mountain biking this weekend. He told mom he like riding his bike. And in all honesty,part of this is a little selfish,cause if I cant get him to go & he doesnt want to do scouts(again ok) I dont have any way to justify going out alone other than just day hiking. And I dont have any friends who will put on a pack & go. Scouts at least gives me access to some folks that may try it out.There are so many nice places withing easy driving distance for us to go & see also. Hate for him to miss the opportunity. And again,I hate not to be able to go. And probably as most of you know,if you do get someone to go,they want to carry everyhing they own & cant and wont do more than 5 or 6 miles a day cause they get worn out. Wont listen when you try to lighten them up & wont put in the time to get in better physical condition beforehand.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
bike be good on 09/21/2011 17:03:42 MDT Print View

If he likes riding his bike, does he mean "mountain bike"? If so, encourage and participate in longer XC rides that get you, he and/or his buddies out deeper into the wild. Consider doing a multi-day trip like those you'll find some of the mtb-tour companies doing (either with them or on your own) to really hit epic stuff. These will feed the appetite for the wilderness and the multi-day treks are a fairly close analog to going "ped" and backpacking.

You'll love it. Take the Scouts on a bike-packing campout to Tamarancho in the Bay Area and you can camp and ride Mt. Tam. Check out the White Rim Trail in Utah.

Jackie Barker
bike be good on 09/21/2011 18:31:00 MDT Print View

Thats what Im hoping for. Ive been checking that out. Cover a lot more ground on a bike. Can still use my home made lightweight gear as well.

hiking on 09/21/2011 19:47:10 MDT Print View

Id bet you could find partners on this board or other local forums outside the scouts. Most hiking boards have a place where persons advertise for company for trips. Some also sponsor group hikes and gatherings where you can meet a bunch of other like minded people.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Change Troops on 09/22/2011 00:02:55 MDT Print View

Find a different troop. Transferring costs $1. Really.

Jackie Barker
chnage troops on 09/22/2011 07:31:28 MDT Print View

I would be fine changing troops. I think he is past that. I enjoy the walking & going places you cant drive to. And although Im certanly no expert I enjoy sharing & teaching others how to lighten there load. Most people when you mention backpacking they think no way Im puttin 60lbs on my back & going for a walk. They have no idea they could get in for a third of that.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Help. Son doesnt like packing or hiking on 09/28/2011 22:46:02 MDT Print View

Guess what? Not all kids like backpacking. Try some trips with just the two of you. If he likes that, drop the scouts. If he doesn't like trips with you then find some healthy activity that the two of you can enjoy. This may mean that you are just a spectator while he is a participant. Unfortunately sometimes raising kids means we have to put off our own interests.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Love backpacking but hate Scouts on 09/28/2011 22:55:20 MDT Print View

My kids love backpacking. They have freedom and not too many rules, especially not normal rules that make no sense to them. They would kill me if I tried to take them to scouts, though. It seems to be organization and proceedure driven. It's the exact opposite of what they love about backpacking. Take him backpacking without the scouts and see how it goes.

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
Find something you can both enjoy on 09/29/2011 02:18:24 MDT Print View

Your son is 13 and it's ok that he doesn't like backpacking. Instead of trying to find a way to make him like it, maybe find something that you can he can enjoy together. It might be that he doesn't like large groups. Maybe he has a friend that he could invite on a weekend trip which would make it more fun. I, too, love backpacking and have accepted the fact that some of my kids do not.

I have six kids. They have various interests and only my 10 year old son is interested in and capable of backpacking. He also likes video games. He likes explaining his strategies for getting past certain levels on certain games and likes to learn chess tactics from me (played on our iPhones by the way). I don't think video games are a complete waste of time. Many of them do teach problem solving skills. But too much of anything probably isn't good. Maybe your son likes the mental challenge in some of the games he plays - that was the reason I played before I had kids. Then, I got into programming and eventually a successful technical sales career.

My oldest (14) doesn't want to go backpacking but is a runner and on her XC team. I started running with her during summer practice, went on their team training trip (where I ran or biked with them). It turned out to be great conditioning for me but most importantly, we are doing something we both enjoy.

I don't get to go on many backpacking trips but I can go with other friends as time permits.

The bottom line is that your son is 13. In a short time, he will be done with high school and be off to college to start his own life. While it would be great if he shared your love for backpacking, it might be worth finding a different activity or a different setting that you can both enjoy for now.