In June I’m leading a backpacking trip for my local Bay Area Cub Scout Pack. Here’s a three part post on making a beginner backpacking trip with kids a success. The articles share lessons from backpacking with my boys across California since age three.
- Part 1: Five Tips for planning a beginning backpacker trip (this post)
- Part 2: Recommended gear for kids age ~8 in age.
- Part 3: Recommend gear for adults backpacking with younger children
Hike a reasonable distance
- Make the goal achievable & enjoyable. Two to three miles one way is an excellent first backpacking distance. Backpacking should be enjoyable.
Go with friends
- Positive peer pressure motivates kids and helps them hike. In camp the children can explore together.
Select a quality destination
- Pick a destination that triggers children’s imagination. Climbing rocks, swinging in trees, and swimming in lakes make the trip even more enjoyable.
Set positive expectations
- Backpacking is an adventure. Get your kids excited about backpacking in advance, so they hit the trail with the right, positive attitude.
Kids carry no weight or lightweight packs
- Kids will have a lifetime of carrying loads, and most kids can only carry a light pack at most. Make the trip easier by not loading them down. My oldest has just started carrying a lightweight pack with some personal gear. My youngest does not carry anything.
See part 2 for Recommended Gear for Kids on a Cub Scout Backpacking Trip. It includes guiding principles, what to wear, and what to carry for kids.