Thank you for your quote from Dr. Seuss. I have three children. Austin Boyd - 8, Travis Mack - 5, and Shelton Alexandra - 4. The boys went fly fishing with me as early as 12 months - and we now car camp some as a family. (I ruined my wife on backpacking prior to our nuptials.) She is not much of a hiker. We Bushwack with Austin Boyd, Trail Blaze with Travis Mack and Sight See with Shelton (She poops out the quickest.) We day hike and we have done some short 2-3 mile 2-day backpacking trips with Travis and Austin and they love it. Austin is chomping at the bit for his own pack to carry his sleeping bag. Travis too wants a pack - but other than his water, snacks and a toy or two that may be it for him.
We are planning backpacking trips for the fall when North Texas Cools off (110 degrees and 80% humidity can be plenty miserable) and maybe some winter trips in the Hill Country. In fact even though we are active in Cub Scouts we still need more.
(I'm our Pack Chairman - [last year when we did our campout and I reserved the "walk in loop" - farthest campsite is about a mile in - there were plenty of complaints - of course when you bring everything including the kitchen sink and haul it in on dollies and wheel barrows I guess I understand the complaint - Many Dads were amazed - I loaded up a tent, food, stove three sleeping bags - even hauled water - one trip in. Set up camp then went back and loaded other people's stuff up and helped 'em haul it in. The boys thought it was really cool to help and kept asking everyone else "What is all that stuff for?"]
I grew up on the farm. Killed Rattlesnakes with wrenches, cleared rocks from pasture, welded to fix and make equipment, worked on tractors and pickups, rode horses, herded cattle. Now I work in an office 60 hours a week - but I constantly try to find ways for my kids to experience the outdoors. Austin loves scouting - Travis can't wait to be a cub scout too. But it takes more than that.
For me personally it is a matter of Stewardship. While these children are in my care I must teach them about nature's fragile beauty. How to respect it. How to go out and experience God's handywork and the grace and beauty it represents. For most kids it takes just one good experience and they are hooked.
We have a group of ten guys that backpack - pretty soon our kiddos will be joining us. It is a great blessing to pass this on to our children and give them the options of joining in on the experience without tv, without phones, without e-mail, with nothing but you, your kids and nature. Can't beat it.
I would urge you my fellow backpackers - if you know someone with kids - invite 'em on a trip. Make it easy - 2-3 nights 5-6 miles - somewhere close, but pretty where you do not have to drive alot to get to trail head. Give the kids research assignments - We alternate responsibilities - Navigator, Information Officer, Scout, Logistics Captain, Supply Sargreant - we try to make it fun. Bring 'em in to the loop - not just the going but the planning as well - I'm certain they will love it.
Recently I took four guys I work with on a trip to a wilderness area about four hours away in Arkansas. We set up day camp and day hiked quite a bit. It started out as a backpacking trip that got converted - but one guy who has kids and had never been camping loved it. He asked a lot of questions about what my kids did, how my wife liked it, how much the gear costs, etc. Long story short - he and two other guys who have never been camping are going with me and my family this fall for a three day trip somewhere. We will more than likely go somewhere with multiple day hike options and do a short "hike-in" campsite to introduce them to the fun. We will day hike and let the kiddos run wild. Both men have mentioned that they are considering going with me and my group on our backpacking trip next year. Just like that we will have two more converts.
This has been a long winded epistle but I am very passionate about teaching families how to be families again. One of the only ways to do that is to remove all the obstacles that prevent us from communicating and interacting as families.
So I will sign off and sign out and take my kiddos swimming.
P.S. This morning before church my kids helped me test my new Stove/Pot kit by making coffee outside. They and I had a blast (for you gear heads it was a Brunton Crux Stove and a Snow Peak 700 cup/mug - Coffee made cowboy style.)