Kids and Camping v1.0

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So, when I was young, my father's idea of "vacation" meant loading up an Army surplus tent and a cooler of bacon and heading to the great white north which, in this case, was always the same place, Port Austin, Michigan. Not that Port Austin wasn't nice. It was. It had trails, and trees, and a Great Lake. Pretty much an idea spot. For CAR CAMPING. Not really my thing. I'm more of a "middle of nowhere, leave me alone" kind of person.

Fast forward 30 (or so) years in the future. I have my own kids and I want to introduce them to the wonders of the outdoors. Still, it would be nice if they actually enjoyed themselves. I want them to appreciate the wilderness that doesn't include pump stations, electrical outlets and owl shaped string lights. I want them to know the pride of carrying their gear, food and water in and leaving to traces while they are there.

Fortunately, I had basic gear. I had a 10 year old Coleman tent; two Coleman sleeping bags (thanks to mom's additional gear requirements); and a basic camp stove. What else did we need? We loaded up and headed into the Hoosier National Forest. It's a beautiful drive followed by a long peaceful hike into one of the prettiest places in the Midwest. Trees, creeks, and no people (or bears). As we divided up the gear (my son and I) I quickly figured out that my son was overloaded. He is 7 years old, tall and very active. Still, the weight of his pack was too much for him. So, we shifted some things to my pack. Then we shifted others. Finally, we shifted the rest. At the end of the day, I had the tent, the bags, the cooking gear, the food, most of the water, and miscellaneous stuff I should have never packed. By the time we set up camp for the night, a few miles down the trail; I was beaten. I'm no piker, but I realized I had been carrying a forty or fifty pound pack all day.

My standard gear was well suited to car camping and had held up well over several trips, and probably not the ideal care. They were simply not cut out for toting around the woods all day and night. When we got back (and once I recuperated) I went to work researching new gear. After a year of reading Backpacker Magazine, and studying great gear sites, I retooled and was ready for more. Stay tuned for my 2011 gear picks.


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Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent
Manufacturer: Coleman
Brand: Coleman
Part Number: FPS-24727
Amazon Price: $63.06
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Coleman Green Valley Cool Weather Sleeping Bag
Manufacturer: COLEMAN
Brand: Coleman
Rank: 3592
Part Number: 765650
Amazon Price: $30.61
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Coleman 24-Piece Enamel Dinnerware Set
Manufacturer: Coleman
Brand: Coleman
Rank: 2838
Part Number: VVB-024
Amazon Price: $34.03
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Camping Gear Top Picks for Backpacking-Updated

Average: 2 (1 vote)

I have been involved in some "hardcore" camping in the last year. No, I haven't trail run the Grand Canyon from rim to rim. Haven't base camped at the foot of K2. No, I have done something far more dicey. Camping with kids my friends, that is where the action is. In my last few articles, I have talked about some of the challenges I faced camping with kids. To be clear, when I say "camping" I'm using it in a specific sense. . . people+tents+wilderness, preferably light on people and heavy on wilderness.Before my "Let's Go RV'ing" friends get up in arms, I think "campers" are a fine thing but a far cry from "camping". I think they bridge a necessary gap between "Holiday Inn Express" and backpacking but it isn't really my cup of tea. So, if you're looking for places to plug in, that's cool. Just not my thing. I'm looking to "unplug". 

Kids and Camping 2.0

Average: 3 (2 votes)

So, when we last talking "camping gear" I had left off with the "don'ts" or, more accurately, why the camping gear I had  (car camping gear that is) was not really suited for my more recent adventures in backcountry camping. My Coleman sleeping back and camp cookware have held up to 15 years of work and are very little worse for the wear and tear. That being said, they simply don't work for backpacking, let alone backpacking with kids. Any camping with kids is about creating a level of fun and safety (secondary to fun in their eyes). If the kids are burdened by too much gear, or if you spend all day setting up and tearing down camp, then the kids won't have a good time. This is Variation 1 on the old saying "if momma ain't happy, nobody's happy". A frustrated or bored kid will result in a frustrated and more frustrated dad and will end up only one more camping. 

Going to Summer Camp

Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

One way to conquer part of summer boredom is summer camp. Summer camps, when chosen properly, can provide wonderful experiences for your child that last a lifetime. Parents who do their research before the camp experience can rest assured as their child spends time away from home at camp.

Picking a Summer Camp

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One way to conquer part of summer boredom is summer camp.  Summer camps, when chosen properly, can provide wonderful experiences for your child that last a lifetime.  Parents who do their research before the camp experience can rest assured as their child spends time away from home at camp.

Water-bound with Toddlers

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While it may be true that “Those who are lucky enough to live on a lake are lucky enough,” for those of us who are not lucky enough, we must pull our wet and wild goodies from beach bags not from our lakeside cabanas.  Thirty-six years of being a water bug have taught me I absolutely must have these... 

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